Bristol Rugby today confirmed that Paul Hull will leave the Club at the end of this season and will be replaced as Head Coach by the Club’s Academy Manager Liam Middleton. Paul Hull re-joined the Club in the summer of 2005 as Assistant Coach and took over as Head Coach in February 2009. Bristol Rugby Chairman Chris Booy commented – “Paul has had a long association with the rugby club both as a player and over the last six years as Assistant Coach and Head Coach. We thank him for all his efforts and wish him the very best for whatever roles he takes on in the future.”

Liam Middleton joined Bristol Rugby in the summer of 2009 and over the past two years has developed the Academy to the point where it is now considered to be one of the strongest in the country. Liam is a RFU Level 4 qualified coach and prior to joining Bristol worked as a Talent ID and Development Officer for the RFU and as the Performance Manager for Hartpury College. During his period at Bristol, Liam has also spent time coaching the Zimbabwe National Sevens side at various IRB Sevens competitions.

Chris Booy commented further – “We are delighted to have appointed Liam as our Head Coach for next season. We have been very impressed with the work he has done with our Academy over the past two years and believe that he is absolutely the right coach to take the Club forward. This appointment also fits very well with the Club’s ethos of developing its own players and staff. We wish Liam every success in his new role and we will be looking forward to a successful season in 2011/12.”

Paul’s full statement: “After 22 years at Bristol Rugby Club, I have made the decision to leave at the end of this season. I wanted to make my position clear now, as I have been in talks with the club for a few months and I feel they need to start planning for next season as soon as possible.

Having stabilised the club in the Championship and qualified for the promotion play-offs, while also still involved in the British & Irish Cup at the knock out stages; I felt I owed it to the club that I love so much to give them time to recruit. At this current time all players and coaching staff are out of contract and a new plan for the future of the club needs to be made as soon as possible.

The decision has been the most difficult in my career but I need a personal change for myself, and my young family. I remain very ambitious as a coach and I am excited about broadening my coaching experience in the professional game either in coaching or development.

My focus is 100% on a strong finish to the season and I personally feel we are in a great position for a possible surprise! That starts with our home British & Irish Cup Quarter Final match, against Ayr this coming Sunday.”