Following promotion from the second division, Bob Dwyer set about rebuilding a team that would be capable of challenging for the game's top honours. Supporters were not disappointed.
The World Cup disrupted the early part of the season, with Henry Honiball (South Africa), Agustin Pichot and Eduardo Simone (Argentina), Garath Archer (England), Jamie Mayer (Scotland), Al Charron (Canada) and Pablo Lemoine (Uruguay) all missing the first few games.
Under the captaincy of Dean Ryan the team played some of the most entertaining rugby seen at the Memorial Stadium. There were thrilling victories over Saracens, a late winner away at Northampton and a breath taking 31-31 draw with Bath.
Bristol reached the semi-final of the Tetely's Bitter Cup only to lose to eventual winners, Wasps. The team also progressed to the semi-final of the European Shield, losing out to Pau, who also went on to win the trophy.
One of the highlights of the season was the emergence of young second row, Andrew Sheridan. The young powerhouse graduated from the dominant U21s set-up and forced himself into the full England tour of South Africa. The team eventually finished sixth, just missing out on European Cup qualification.
During the close season, Dean Ryan took over as Head Coach from Bob Dwyer, and new signings included, Ben Sturnham from Bath, Leigh Davies from Cardiff and Neil McCarthy from Gloucester.