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Bristol's Rennie revelling in Scots connections ahead of Gala tie

With Gala poised to leave for Bristol at the weekend to play a British & Irish Cup tie, Bryan Rennie, the Greene King English Championship side's centre, has been reminiscing about his time spent north of the border.

In 2005, South African-born Rennie, then 20, arrived in Edinburgh to play for Watsonians and, after scoring more than 20 tries including two in their Scottish Cup final win over Currie, he was offered a pro contract with the Border Reivers for season 2006/07. Since then, he has played for London Irish, Exeter Chiefs and Bristol and also earned three Scotland 'A' caps back in 2010, his eligibility coming thanks to his Abderdeen-born father.

"I loved playing with Watsonians and the Border Reivers," said Rennie. "When I first arrived I could not have imagined that, over eight years later, I would still be playing in the UK.

"I had a great time at Myreside with Watsonians that first year and we had a great team at that stage, with the likes of Steve Lawrie, who has since played for Scotland, being involved. My form there helped me get the Reivers contract and it was a real shame when the club was closed in 2007 because there were a lot of talented young players coming through.

"That gave me the opportunity to progress my career down south and I have learned a lot at all three clubs. To play for Exeter when they were promoted to the Premiership was a highlight, but now we are building something special at Bristol and there are good times ahead."

Soon after joining Bristol in the summer of 2012, Rennie suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament and spent 11 months in rehab.

"It was tough, especially after joining a new club and wanting to hit the ground running, but I was pleased to get back at the end of September in our match against Jersey after 11 months out. I am feeling fully fit now and hopefully I will get a run out against Gala on Sunday."

Rennie is just one of a number of Scottish connections at the Memorial Stadium. There is the director of rugby Andy Robinson, the former Scotland head coach, while the props Kyle Traynor and Bruce Douglas are full caps and the back row Mitch Eadie played for Scotland at under-20 level.

"There are a few of us down here and I am sure that will give the match with Gala that little bit of extra edge," added Rennie. "I'm looking forward to catching up with Opeta Palepoi who I played with at the Borders and who still plays at Gala while his young team-mates will be heading south looking to cause an upset."

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