Former Bath coach Andy Robinson set for director of rugby role at Bristol
Former Bath Rugby coach Andy Robinson will be unveiled as the new director of rugby at fierce West Country rivals Bristol on Monday.
Three months after leaving his post with Scotland, the Bath-based 48-year-old will make a dramatic return to rugby when he is placed in charge of the Memorial Stadium club.
But it is understood Liam Middleton, Bristol’s head coach, is supportive of the appointment and will remain in his position with his title unaffected.
Middleton will lead the coaching while Robinson oversees the bigger picture, including player recruitment and team strategy.
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The expectation will be that Robinson leads Bristol back into the Aviva Premiership next season – if they miss out on promotion via the Championship play-offs this year.
Capped eight times by England, Robinson was a celebrated flanker and one-club man during a trophy-laden career with Bath.
He then coached Bath, before helping Sir Clive Woodward mastermind England’s 2003 World Cup triumph in Australia, when he served as forwards coach.
He held the same position on the British & Irish Lions’ tour to New Zealand in 2005, having taken over from Woodward as England head coach a year earlier.
He left his role with England in 2006, before a two-year stint with Edinburgh, which led to him becoming Scotland head coach in 2009.
After a disappointing autumn series, which included a shock defeat to Tonga, Robinson resigned in November, but remains one of the most respected coaches in British rugby.
Bristol majority shareholder Steve Lansdown announced last week that he will bring his two sporting interests – the rugby club and Bristol City – together under one roof at Ashton Vale or Ashton Gate in the future.
And he has made it clear behind the scenes that he wants the rugby club to be playing in the Premiership by the time they are turning out in a 30,000-capacity stadium at Ashton Vale or 26,000-seater Ashton Gate.
Robinson’s arrival is not expected to be confirmed before Sunday’s home game against Rotherham, but it is understood he will be unveiled next week. And unlike the recent signings announced by Bristol – Errie Claassens, Andy Short, Peter Buxton and Mark Sorenson – Robinson is expected to take up his position before the end of the season.
Supporters may question where the arrival of a proven coach – a World Cup winner with five years’ experience in charge of international teams – leaves Middleton.
But the initial indications suggest he has been fully briefed on Robinson’s appointment, understands the decision, and is willing to work alongside the former England and Scotland boss.
Although predominantly known as a Bath man, Taunton-born Robinson has links to Bristol.
He taught at Colston’s School, where he helped the first XV to back-to-back Daily Mail Cup titles in the 1990s, while he is married to Samantha, the sister of former Bristol lock John Morrison.