Bristol Bears announce Sean Marsden as first team skills coach

The 40-year-old Bristolian takes over the role from Bruce Reihana, who departs after three seasons.

One of the most highly regarded young coaches in the Premiership, Marsden spent four years as Bears Academy coach was appointed to the England U18s backroom staff during the 2019 Six Nations Festival.

“Sean is respected and well thought of by the entire group. Developing our staff and promoting from within is a core pillar of our vision. He is an excellent ambassador of our Bears Team culture and has shown his value to the organisation,” said Director of Rugby Pat Lam.

“Sean has shown his quality of preparation and detail during his time as Bears Academy Transition Coach. He has an excellent understanding and knowledge of our system and game plan coaching the Bears A Team as well the Bears U18s. I’m confident he can build on the strong foundations that Bruce set and help drive our Bears skills programme to the next level.

“We’re massively grateful to Bruce for the dedication, commitment and friendship he has shown in his time with the Bears. Bruce has been a key part of our journey from the start and has been an excellent team man. He brought real energy to the environment every day and we all wish him, Laura and the family every success for the next chapter of his career.”

Reihana added: “I’ve really enjoyed my time at Bristol, it’s been an exciting journey from when we first started in 2017 to where we are now as a team. Through good and bad we have learnt a lot, worked hard and become stronger as a unit.

“The future is looking very bright for the Bears and I wish them all the very best. I would like to thank everybody that has been involved over the past three years. I’m now looking forward to what the future holds for me and the challenges ahead.”

A club stalwart, Marsden racked up over 150 appearances for Bristol during his playing career, before enjoying a successful coaching stint at Hartpury College, leading the U18s to four AASE titles in succession.

He said: “It’s been a great privilege to be part of the Academy over the past four seasons and I’m relishing the next challenge in Pat Lam’s coaching team. The Academy is in a good place under the leadership of Gethin and Gary and it will continue to go from strength to strength.

“The opportunity to work with world class players and coaches in the environment that we have at the Bears is something that I’m really excited about. Having worked closely with Pat over the past three seasons, and because the performance departments are so closely aligned, it’s an easy transition for me to move into the senior set up.

“As somebody who has a close affinity to the club and the city, I’m very proud to be part of the Bears journey and it’s been fantastic to be have coached the likes of Andy Uren, Callum Sheedy and Charlie Powell through the system and to now continue driving their development in the first team.

“The ambition and vision of the club’s leadership is unparalleled in rugby and that’s created a culture where everybody is striving to keep getting better. We want to win trophies and dominate in Europe. There’s a lot of hard work ahead to achieve those goals and I’m looking forward to getting started.”

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