Bristol Bears


Young England Under-20s winger making an impression as brother Macenzzie Duncan progresses with Bears men
Reneeqa Bonner does not need to look far when it comes to advice on how to succeed at the highest level in rugby.

The Bristol Bears starlet has caught the eye in Allianz Cup action this season and is now targeting international recognition with England Under-20s.

And while she has no shortage of mentors in the Bears women set-up, it is closer to home that she gets the most honest feedback.

Bonner’s older brother Macenzzie Duncan is part of the academy set-up for Bears’ men’s team, featuring for them in the Premiership Rugby Cup this season. And the 20-year-old has been one of the driving forces behind Bonner’s progress.

She explained: “I started rugby at Clevedon, it was the first-ever Clevedon girls club, I was one of the first girls there.

"My brother really inspired me to get into rugby, I used to go down and watch him all the time.

"My mum wasn’t too sure on letting me start rugby but I persuaded her, I’ve taken to it ever since then.

"I did football but I quit it instantly, as soon as I found rugby. I had a really good support system around me at Clevedon Girls who have helped me get to where I am.

“He gets how I’m feeling a lot of the time. He’s not necessarily getting the game time with Bears, sometimes he is but sometimes he’s got playing opportunities elsewhere.

"He picks my confidence and lifts my head up when I’m feeling down. There’s lots of criticism but I take it well.”

As a back-rower, Duncan has a very different role to Bonner, a speedster on the wing for Bears. But luckily for her, she has some of the best in the business to guide her along the way.

Chief among them is Deborah Wills, who has been tearing it up in Allianz Premiership Women’s Rugby since returning to Bears from Saracens.

A sevens standout, Wills’ leadership has been a key part of Bonner’s development.

She said: “I took so much (from the Allianz Cup opportunities). I took so much from Deborah, she’s helped me a lot, she really has mentored me. 

"A lot of little tricks that I’ve picked up are all from her, because she inspires me so much, she’s such a great person.

“The way they (Wills and fellow Bears winger Jaz Joyce) manipulate defenders, they do it so well and so easily. 

"They also have natural pace, it’s ridiculous how fast they are. Just trying to catch up with them sometimes is a little bit hard. 

"I’ve got a little bit faster this season thanks to the S&C at Bears.”

With competition for places fierce at Bristol, Bonner has had to be patient. Training in the evening with the squad while studying at Hartpury, her next target will be to make an impression for England Under-20s as she looks to put into practice everything she has picked up from training alongside some of the world’s best.

She added: “I really want to be included in the 20s squad, with a bit more hard work, hopefully I’ll be in the squad.

"I also want to get some good game time in the cup under my belt, and maybe a few Prem games too if I’m lucky enough and I work hard.

“At the moment I’m at university at Hartpury so I’m just in the evening squad at the moment.

"But I’m constantly getting micro coaching from the internationals and picking up little bits from Abbie (Ward) and Holly (Aitchison) and Botts (Hannah Botterman) and Berner (Sarah Bern), all of them.

"They have got so much to give and my rugby knowledge isn’t the best.

"In training they help me so much, it’s nice to pick their brains and get knowledge from the best of the best.”

Tickets are now on sale for the Allianz Premiership Women's Rugby Final on 22 June at Sandy Park - kick off 3pm. Click here to buy a ticket and be part of an unmissable day of women's rugby.