Rugby club changes team name to pre-existing gay bear group. | Photo: Mike Gibson / Flickr
A UK rugby club just changed its team name to the same as a leading gay bear group in the area.
Bristol Rugby decided a rebrand of the club name was in order to shake things up. They decided on the name Bristol Bears, but the name’s already taken.
Chief operating officer for the Bristol Bears Mark Tainton said in a video: ‘It’s a new direction we’re taking – a new thing we need to do.
‘The time right now is to move on. It’s an opportunity to put ourself out there and get our brand around every city in the world,’ he said.
But when people search for Bristol Bears domain name, it’s linked to the gay bear group. And when people search for the term online, up comes the website featuring the Bristol Bear Fiesta and Southern HiBearnation.
It’s hosted by the Bristol Bear Bar (also known as the BBB) in the city’s gay village, Old Market. The BBB is the only bespoke bear club in the UK.
The Bristol bear community are a regular fixture at Bristol Pride every year.
📢 | Stepping out of the shadows and into the light.
— Bristol Rugby (@Bristol_RFC) April 16, 2018
A spokesperson from Bristol Sport told the Bristol Post: ‘Naturally we were aware of the Bristol Bear Bar from the very beginning of the rebrand process.
‘We have been in close contact with the owner of the bar and are confident that we can all co-exist happily together,’ she added.
Mixed reactions from fans
Reactions on the rebrand from fans of the Bristol rugby team are mixed.
Many from the gay bear community love the idea of being associated with the rugby union team.
One gay fan took to Twitter to write: ‘As a gay guy in Bristol that used to play rugby, I couldn’t feel more at home than when I’m at Ashton Gate. Proud to be a Bristol Bear in every way possible.’
But other fans weren’t so impressed.
One wrote on Twitter: ‘Bristol Bears is embarrassing. Hopefully Gloucester don’t become Gloucester Giraffes or something or could we have the Bath Baboons?’
Then the rugby club posted to Twitter about homophobic messages since announcing the rebrand.
The Bristol Bears tweeted: ‘Received plenty of homophobic tweets and comments over the past 2 days. Let’s be clear:
#BristolBears are absolutely proud to welcome rugby fans to ashtongatestad, irrespective of sexuality, gender, religion or race.’
They also added: ‘Come and enjoy a fantastic match day with us.’
Bristol Rugby have been competing in the Premiership league (the top division of English rugby union) since the 2016/17 season.
The upcoming season will be their second in the top rugby union division.
Watch a hilarious spoof of the rebrand:
— Graham Love (@GLove39) April 16, 2018