BOURNEMOUTH Rugby marked the start of the club's 125th anniversary year by unveiling a striking new red and black strip.

The kit was revealed at a launch event at Bournemouth Highcliff Marriott Hotel and is a major departure from the previous yellow-and-black striped offering.

The launch was attended by more than 140 people including many of the newly-appointed ambassadors, invited by Bournemouth Rugby to represent the club throughout the year across sport, education, local authority, business and the media.

They were joined by partner sponsors, operational volunteers, coaches and managers, as well as representatives from Pilgrim Bandits, the club's charity for 2017-18.

Bournemouth Rugby CEO James Croker introduced sponsors Rupert Holloway, founder of Conker Gin and supporter of the first XV and senior teams, Warren Munson, managing director at Inspire Professional Services and sponsor of Bournemouth Rugby’s community development team, and Roger Woodall, owner of Diamond Sporting Group, including Viper 10, the provider of the new kit.

Croker said: “This launch is the start of a big year for Bournemouth Rugby. We have spent the past 12 months putting the foundations for community and business engagement in place and have been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and support from business, education and the local authorities.

"We are already so much more than the sum of our parts and have 125 years of heritage to build on.

"Through forward-thinking management, the continued recruitment and work of a fantastic team of volunteers, strong relationships with our partners and of course by playing great rugby, the club has a great future ahead of it.”

Bournemouth Rugby has a thriving academy and minis section of 500 children – aged four to 18 – playing rugby every Sunday.

Charlie Ewels came through the youth ranks to play for England under-20s and subsequently Eddie Jones's senior side, while Sam Bailey has progressed to the England counties under-20s team.

The club’s girls' section has become the hub for girls' rugby in the region, while the partnership with Rippa Rugby has formed an established community development team, responsible for delivering coaching in schools and deprived areas through an apprenticeship scheme which also develops young players as coaches.

Bournemouth Rugby is one of the oldest clubs in the region, with origins dating back to 1893.

It became part of Bournemouth Sports Club for the 1938-39 season when Bournemouth played at Kinson Park in Northbourne and in 1989 the club moved to Chapel Gate.

Today, the first team plays in National Three South West and last season they finished fifth in the standings having won 12 of their 26 games and drawn three.

The league champions were Old Redcliffians, while Dings Crusaders were second but missed out on promotion after losing heavily in a play-off against Wimbledon.

With thriving seniors, colts and academy and minis sections, as well as touch rugby, Bournemouth Rugby have been awarded RFU accreditation.

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