Former Scotland coach Andy Robinson says he is celebrating for the first time in two years after finally guiding Bristol back into the English Premiership.
The west country side won their promotion play-off against Doncaster 60-47 on aggregate on Wednesday night to the relief of Robinson, who endured defeats at a similar stage in the two previous seasons.
Bristol, including Scotland-capped prop Kyle Traynor, actually lost the second leg 34-32 at the Ashton Gate stadium they share with Bristol City FC, but their 28-13 first-leg win at Doncaster was enough to see them home.
Robinson, who has also coached Bath, England and Edinburgh, is now looking forward to life in the Aviva Premiership next season and said: “The thing for us is we believe as a side that, when we go up, the Premiership will enjoy coming to Ashton Gate.
“We look forward to Bath coming next year, Gloucester, Exeter and we believe we can sell-out at 27,000, which will be great for the Premiership.
“We’ll bring a lot to the Premiership next year.”
Robinson, who was Scotland coach between 2009 and 2012, admitted that the previous two seasons, when Bristol were pipped in play-offs against London Welsh and Worcester, had been testing.
“For the last two years I haven’t celebrated winning a game of rugby, and now I’m celebrating a game of rugby that we’ve lost,” added the 52-year-old former England flanker. “It’s a funny feeling that you get because it’s all or nothing, as was shown last year against Worcester.
“The players have put in an incredible effort, the team management have put incredible effort in, all for this, to make sure that we got promoted. The hard work starts – we want to perform well in the Premiership and there are a lot of improvements we’ve got to make.”
Robinson joined Bristol in March 2013 after resigning the Scotland post following a shock home loss to Tonga at Pittodrie the previous autumn. Bristol will go into the Premiership without England loosehead prop Ellis Genge, who has made his move to Leicester permanent.
Genge spent the last three months of the season on loan at the Tigers and has now agreed a permanent move.
The 21-year-old made five Leicester appearances, including the Aviva Premiership semi-final against Saracens, and earned a call-up to the England squad for summer Tests against Wales and Australia.
Director of rugby Richard Cockerill told the official Tigers website: “Ellis has made a big impression in his time on loan with us. He is very keen to learn and has an excellent work ethic. He earned his opportunities in the Tigers team towards the end of the season.
“He is a great young prospect and he seems to have found his home at Leicester in his time on loan with us.”