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Falcons legend to retire at end of season



Wednesday 12 April 2023

Newcastle Falcons great Will Welch, a one-club man who has spent 15 years playing for his home town team, will retire from rugby at the end of the current season.

The 33-year-old sits joint-second on the Falcons’ all-time appearance list, having done battle on 275 occasions.

Speaking on the announcement he said: “It’s meant the world to me for me to play for the team I used to come and watch when I was a kid.

“From being in the Falcons academy, signing professionally as a teenager and going on to spend my whole career here – the whole thing has just been a dream.”

The former RGS Newcastle pupil made his first-team debut as an 18-year-old in October 2008 and became the Falcons’ youngest ever captain when he took over the reins at the age of just 22.

Leading the club to promotion and forming the cornerstone of the Falcons’ pack for well over a decade, Welch explained his decision, saying: “I’ve had an ankle issue for the past couple of seasons which has been niggling me every week, and I just needed to get it sorted.

“It’s a six-month recovery which unfortunately takes me past the end of this season, but on the positive side it will fix it for life after rugby. I’ll at least be able to run around with my kids, and I’m retiring on my own terms.

“I’ve been thinking about retirement for a little while now, and it was probably going to come at some point in the near future anyway with the way my ankle was. Coupled with the fact I have a career opportunity outside of rugby, it just feels like the right time.

“I could potentially have tried to hold on for another year, but I don’t want to do it that way. This decision just means I’m doing it on my own terms and I know this is my last season, rather than having it forced upon me.”

Welch added: “I spoke to a number of people who have already retired from rugby, and a lot of them just had that moment where they were like ‘that’s me, I’m done’.

“It was similar for me, to be honest, and there was just a point where I knew it was the right call. I’m happy with my decision, I’ve loved my time here and now I’m looking forward to the next chapter of my life.

“Doing something fresh and different is a new challenge for me, and I’m excited about that. I’m doing my finance exams at the moment with a view to taking a job after that. I’ve had the chance to plan for this, and it’s much better that way rather than being pushed out or having an injury make the decision for me.”

Newcastle Falcons chairman Semore Kurdi said: “Will retires as a true Newcastle Falcons great, and it has been an absolute privilege to have him with us for well over a decade.

“He is somebody who always put the team before individual gain, he gave absolutely everything on the field and the work he did behind the scenes as club captain was outstanding.

“He epitomises everything we are about as a club, and I wish him every success once his time with us comes to an end. Hopefully we’ll still have the pleasure of having him on site for game days with his family, and he’ll continue to be part of the club in a different way.”

Welch is tied in second with Tom May on 275 appearances for the Falcons, with the pair both 12 behind former prop and current forwards coach Micky Ward.

“It’s not something that has been on my radar, to be honest,” said Welch.

“Yeah, it would have been nice to have that record but I didn’t want to hang around just because of it, and you can’t argue with Wardy holding on to the top spot. He’s a club icon, and I’m more than happy to be second to him on that list.”

The flanker hopes to remain in Newcastle where he and his wife Laura have two sons, Rex and Max, with Welch explaining: “I won’t miss battering my body on a weekend but I’ll miss the rest of it, and I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve had throughout my time with the Falcons.

“It’s meant a massive amount to me. I’ve loved playing for the club, and I’ve had loads of great experiences along the way. Our supporters have always been brilliant in getting behind me and the team, and I’d like to say a massive thank you for all the love they’ve shown.

“It’s been a rollercoaster journey at times, but one that I’ve enjoyed. I always wanted to be there for the club and help them through those difficult situations, but the support from my team-mates and the staff at the club has always been great. There’s a good bunch of us came through around the same time with the likes of Alex Tait and Mark Wilson, and we all share the same feeling around how much the club means to us.

“North East sports fans are well known for their passion and support, and it’s been no different with the Falcons. I think we punch above our weight in terms of the atmosphere our supporters create, and that’s been a massive thing throughout my time with the club.

“It’s hard to pick out highlights because so much has happened, but I loved the first game we played at St James’ Park. We had a good win over Northampton in front of more than 30,000 supporters, and as a Newcastle United fan that whole day was just unreal.

“Rather than the games themselves the main thing I look back on is the people you meet along the way, and the times you have together. A lot of the time it’s the off-field stuff rather than the games, and I’ve made some incredible mates.”

It has also been confirmed that Will Welch will have a testimonial year, details of which will be announced in due course.

Source – Newcastle Falcons Rugby





Sale Sharks have agreed a deal to sign Fiji captain Waisea Nayacalevu from French Top14 side Toulon. 

The explosive centre, who starred for his country during the recent World Cup, has signed a one-year contract with an option for a further year. 

He will join up with Alex Sanderson’s Sharks squad ahead of the start of the 2024/25 Gallagher Premiership season. 

Waisea, 33, said: “I’ve watched the Premiership for a long time and it’s always been in the back of my mind that I would love to play there one day and experience rugby in England. 

“Now that opportunity has arrived and I’m really, really happy and grateful. I’m so excited to get over there and join the boys and see how I can contribute to the team. 

“I have spoken to Telusa Veainu and he only has positive things to say about the club and about Manchester. 

“I’m looking forward to playing with some of the guys I’ve played against, like Tom Curry and George Ford. But I also know there are a lot of really talented young players in the Sale Sharks squad and I’m excited to share my experience and help them develop as much as I can.  

“I told Alex that it’s what I’ve been doing for the last few years of my career and it’s something I’m passionate about.” 

Nayacalevu, who stands at 6’4” and weighs in at 16st 7lb, spent ten years at Top14 side Stade Français before making the switch to Toulon in 2022.  

He has won 34 caps for Fiji, slotting in at both centre and on the wing, and captained his country at last year’s World Cup, where the Pacific Islanders made the quarter-finals, losing 30-24 to England in Marseille. 

He also famously scored for Fiji in their memorable pre-World Cup win against England at Twickenham. 

Images & Content from Sale Sharks Rugby

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Falcons star to join Saracens



Phil Brantingham to join Saracens

Tuesday 05 March 2024 Written by: Tom Grisedale

Prop-forward Phil Brantingham will leave Newcastle Falcons in the summer to join Saracens.

The 22-year-old has played 25 games for his home town club, and leaves with the thanks and best wishes of everyone at the Falcons.

Chairman of rugby Matt Thompson said: “Phil has done well for us and we made him a good offer to stay here.

“We respect his decision and wish him all the best for his move in the summer, but between now and then he will be fully committed to finishing the season strongly for Newcastle Falcons.”

Source – Newcastle Falcons Rugby

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Sale Sharks can confirm that forward Cobus Wiese will leave the club at the end of the season to return to South Africa. 

The 26-year-old lock has played almost 80 games for the club and scored five tries since joining from the DHL Stormers ahead of the 2020/21 season. 

He played a key role last year as Sale reached the Premiership final, and this season he has featured a further 13 times for Alex Sanderson’s side. 

Alex said: “Cobus will be missed by all of us on so many levels. He’s the most polite and courteous of people off the field, but the most wildly excitable man on the field, and on a night out. 

“To say Cobus wears his heart on his sleeve is to do him a disservice with regards to his emotional commitment for which his body has paid the price on occasion.  

“He leads by example and has earnt the respect and adoration of the group both on a professional and a personal level. We wish him every success and happiness with his move back home.” 

Everyone at Sale Sharks would like to thank Cobus for his contribution to the club and the team during his time here and we wish him all the very best for the future.  

Images & Content from Sale Sharks Rugby

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