Aviva Premiership Club-by-Club: Newcastle Falcons

Newcastle FalconsTeam: Newcastle Falcons
Coach: Alan Tait
Home ground: Kingston Park

Players In:
Luke Eves (centre, Bristol), Darren Fearn (prop, Northumbria University), Luke Fielden (fullback, Bedford), James Fitzpatrick (centre, Blaydon), Joe Graham (hooker, Tynedale), James Hall (prop, Coventry), Andrew Henderson (centre, Montauban), Joel Hodgson (RGS Newcastle), Ally Hogg (back row, Edinburgh), Jeremy Manning (fly half, Munster), Redford Pennycook (Bristol), Glen Townson (lock, Doncaster), Mark Wilson (flanker, Blaydon)

Players Out:
Adam Balding (back row, Worcester), Tom Biggs (wing, Bath), Peter Browne (lock, Harlequins), Spencer Davey (centre, retired), Carl Hayman (prop, Toulon), Chris Micklewood (utility back), Rob Miller (fly half, Sale), Laurence Ovens (prop, Bedford), Mark Sorenson (lock, Northampton), Alex Walker (hooker, Esher)

The manner in which Jimmy Gopperth has taken over from Jonny Wilkinson as the North-East’s favourite fly-half has been mightily impressive. There were concerns last year that they’d struggle with the loss of a few key players, but Gopperth has become a real asset, orchestrating proceedings at 10, kicking the points when they are on and ensuring the team does just enough to stay in the game. All of that means that they are a very difficult side to beat, and apart from the anomalous 58-14 thrashing by Saracens, no team was able to open them up last season.

Newcastle’s home form has been a concern, with only two victories at Kingston Park last year (although they drew three), and they might need to perform in front of their fans to keep the Newcastle faithful faithful. The Falcons have suffered another big loss in the shape of Carl Hayman, and again there is a mismatch between the quality of outgoing players and that of the incoming players, so they might need to rely on vocal home support to get them through tight games.

One to watch:
Prop Jon Golding caught the eye last year with his solid scrummaging, impressive tackle counts and general omnipresence in the loose. So much so that he’s in the England Elite Squad, and another strong start to the season should see him in the mix for the Autumn Internationals – and having another talismanic prop will do no harm to Newcastle’s league campaign either.

Last season:

Having unsuccessfully predicted their relegation for the last two seasons (sorry Newcastle fans!), we think they’ll do enough to finish ahead of the likes of Leeds and Exeter, but it will be another season of looking over their shoulder rather than up the ladder – 9th.

10 thoughts on “Aviva Premiership Club-by-Club: Newcastle Falcons

  1. As always the media and so called experts place the Falcons near relegation but we still live to fight another day. If officials on the day actually see what is in front of them and not the top 6 hype then the league would be a different matter. Hopefully this season “spreaders” group of referees apply that ethos to the league. Then the premier league will be a better product for the spectators and not the London,South West and Midlands cartel!

  2. Have you been hanging around with Peter de Villiers??

    Are you really suggesting that there is some sort of refereeing conspiracy against the Falcons which means they’ll always be near the bottom of the table?

  3. Well should I point to Welford road a few years ago, live match on sky, the conversion that never was. Some strange decisions and interpretations have come the falcons way, if fair mindset comes on to the pitch and officiate what is in front of you fine. During a season some strange decisions come along that do affect the match and the league. Do the cartel clubs like coming to the North East? Not that cosy as is along the M4.

  4. Agreed, the standard of refereeing needs to be improved (I have been saying this for nearly 2 years now!), however, all clubs and all fans will feel that there are “strange” decisions that go against them, and unfortunately at times, these decisions have a large impact on the outcome of the game. Unfortunately that is part of sport. I remember last season Bath had an incident against Leicester, with Toby Floods so called conversion, which even the commentators said was wide, however the tv official gave it. Poor decision – YES! Conspicacy – I seriuosly doubt it. To honestly believe there is some kind of refereeing conspicacy, I personally feel is a little far fetched, and an attempt to look to pin the blame of poor performances on someone else. Of course, that is just my personal opinion.

  5. I dont think I said it was a conspiracy, if it was then it hasnt worked! English refereeing has not improved, look at how many are used in the top international matches. Not many. Since they turned professional I thought that the standard would have improved. I do think that some officials are somehow affected by certain clubs, just by there performance at certain grounds. Cant wait for the season to start, we may see improvements and discussions.

  6. Agree that the standard of refereeing needs to improve generally. There has been a lot of talk about new law interpretations that we’ll see more of this season, encouraging attacking play – so much so that teams are training differently in preseason.

    I think there was a sub-clause in the memo, now you mention it: give benefit of doubt to attacking team, unless of course it’s Newcastle.

  7. Everyone is talking about law changes, especially around the ruck. Is this what the RFU told the refs to enforce end of last season? Some did and others didnt. Or do we have changes from the IRB. If so shouldnt they be promoted/advertised on the rugby websites, especially the premiership website.

  8. Surely the reason that Newcastle have been towards the foot of the table is because:

    1. When Jonny was there he was either injured or with England, as was Flood, Noon and Tait, so you didn’t have a backline…
    2. You haven’t had the pack to compete
    3. Newcastle have lost so many games at home – which would suggest that the ‘cartel’ clubs don’t mind the trip up the M4…
    4. Newcastle have re-hauled their squad a lot of the past couple of seasons, which doesn’t exactly promote continuity

    Frankly, I think you’re just trying to find a scapegoat for a Newcastle squad that have not been competitive for a while now…

  9. Yes John some of your points are valid. Supplying England the backline didnt help but other teams who say they provide more to the English effort are afforded some charity on the pitch. Believe me the standard of officiating does differ from club to club. Just remember that alot of clubs have had the big reshuffle with the exodus to France. Sale probably suffered but the mindset has to become fairer, or the professional game will not grow within the sporting framework of this country

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