Connect with us


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


Club announce arrival of former Wallaby coach



Leicester Tigers Head Coach Dan McKellar has appointed Petrus du Plessis to his senior coaching team as Interim Scrum Coach.

The South African will remain in the role until the arrival of new Scrum Coach Dan Palmer, when his commitments with the Wallabies are complete following the Australian national side’s Rugby World Cup campaign.

Born in South Africa, du Plessis represented St Helens, Orrell and Sedgley Park between 2001-2009 before joining Nottingham Rugby ahead of the 2009/10 Championship season.

He joined Saracens a year later and, during the next sevens seasons, featured in three league and two European Champions Cup winning campaigns.

The front-rower moved to London Irish in 2017 and then Glasgow Warriors in 2018, spending two seasons in Scotland before retiring in 2020 – including a final season as player/coach.

In September 2020, du Plessis was announced as Australia’s Scrum Coach where he worked alongside McKellar for almost three years.

Speaking about the interim appointment, Leicester Tigers Head Coach Dan McKellar said: “Our scrum is an integral part of what we do and, with Dan [Palmer] arriving after the World Cup, we felt it was important to have that specific focus on it during this period.

“To have been able to appoint someone with the experience of Petrus for that was an added bonus and too good an opportunity not to take up for the club and our players.

“I have worked with Petrus over the past few years in Australia and know the energy and enthusiasm he brings, as well as the effort he puts into his work. I am glad we’re able to have that here at Leicester Tigers in the interim.”

The appointment of Petrus du Plessis to the interim role is effective immediately.

Content & Images from – Leicester Tigers Rugby

Continue Reading


Bath confirm 2023/24 squad



The official Bath Rugby squad for the 2023/24 season has been announced.

Entering into his second year at the helm of Bath Rugby, Johann van Graan welcomed Ollie Lawrence, Ted Hill, Alfie Barbeary and Fergus Lee-Warner over the course of 2022/23, who remain with squad as we head into 2023/24.

With Finn Russell and Thomas du Toit still yet to link up with the squad after the Rugby World Cup, the Head of Rugby’s squad is looking full of power and prowess. 

Several big names committed their futures to the Blue, Black and White earlier this year, seeing England internationals Tom Dunn, Will Stuart, Sam Underhill, Ben Spencer and Joe Cokanasiga all re-signing. 

Scotland international Cameron Redpath also pledged his future to the club, as did Irish international second row Quinn Roux. 

Arriving at the club this summer is recently announced signing, Mikey Summerfield, who joined from London Irish. The young prop has been lauded with talent and high prospects, offering another option in the front row. 

Bath Rugby also named Billy Sela, Jack Bennett, Ieuan Davies, Ioan Emanuel, Rory Cameron, James Short, George Timmins and Raff Weston as their Academy intake for 2023/24, with many of them already putting their stamp on the age-grade international stage. 

The Bath Rugby squad are now preparing for the season ahead, with the opening fixtures seeing the commencement of a newly formatted Premiership Rugby Cup.

The coaching set-up has also been refreshed for 2023/23. Joining van Graan on his staffing team are Assistant Coaches Lee Blackett and Richard Blaze, who arrived at the club from Wasps and Leicester Tigers ahead of pre-season.

Stevie Scott and Andy Robinson have also joined van Graan to assist with scrummaging and the coaching of the Academy, respectively.

JP Ferreira and Jon Callard remain with the squad into their second year alongside van Graan. 

bath rugby squad 2023/24

PROP: Arthur Cordwell, Thomas du Toit, Ioan Emanuel, Archie Griffin, Johannes Jonker, Scott Kirk, Beno Obano, Juan Schoeman, Billy Sela, Archie Stanley, Will Stuart, Mikey Summerfield, Kieran Verden

HOOKER: Niall Annett, Tom Dunn, Max Pearce, Jasper Spandler, John Stewart

SECOND ROW: Jack Bennett, Rory Cameron, Harvey Cuckson, Josh Dingley, Eddie Erskine, Charlie Ewels, Will Jeanes, Fergus Lee-Warner, Daniel Marais, Josh McNally, Ewan Richards, Quinn Roux

BACK ROW: Abdul-Khalik Akenzua Al Kareem, Alfie Barbeary, Josh Bayliss, Chris Cloete, Jaco Coetzee, Thompson Cowan, MacKenzie Graham, Arthur Green, Ted Hill, Nahum Merigan, Miles Reid, Ethan Staddon, George Timmins, JJ Tonks, Sam Underhill

SCRUM-HALF: Tom Carr-Smith, Ieuan Davies, Murdoch Lock, Louis Schreuder, Ben Spencer

FLY-HALF: Orlando Bailey, Piers Francis, Sam Harris, Finn Russell, Raff Weston, George Worboys

CENTRE: Will Butt, Louie Hennessey, Ollie Lawrence, Max Ojomoh, Will Parry, Cameron Redpath, James Short, Max Wright

BACK THREE: Joe Cokanasiga, Tom de Glanville, Ciaran Donoghue, Matt Gallagher, Gabe Goss, Luke Graham, Byron Lloyd-Gilmour, Ruaridh McConnochie, Will Muir

bath rugby coaching team

HEAD OF RUGBY: Johann van Graan

ASSISTANT COACHES: Lee Blackett, Richard Blaze, Jon Callard, JP Ferreira, Andy Robinson, Stevie Scott


Content & Images from – Bath Rugby

Continue Reading


Alex Brown | Open letter to supporters



Gloucester Rugby

Dear All, 

I wanted to write following Lance’s announcement last week that he was standing down as CEO of Gloucester Rugby. First and foremost, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Lance for his significant contribution to the Club over the past four years; during Lance’s stewardship, we have emerged from an extremely challenging period to a position of financial health and together, have built a team of staff and players who hold a forward-thinking mindset, setting up our Club well for a promising future ahead.  

I feel truly privileged and humbled to have been asked by Martin St Quinton to help to drive the Club forward this summer. 

So, I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight how the off-season is progressing behind the scenes.  

150th Anniversary 

Founded in 1873, it is an incredibly exciting year for the Club as we celebrate our 150th Anniversary. We have been working on plans to commemorate this significant event and look forward to hosting our Big Summer Party on the 12th August to kick off the season. There will be live music, community coaching opportunities, signing sessions and more. And of course, not forgetting a hero’s welcome for our Premier 15s winning Gloucester-Hartpury team who will be joining us on the day to mark this notable milestone in the Club’s history. I am also delighted to announce that we will be launching our new 2023/24 home shirt on this day too. 


The full fixture list has now been drawn; and with a new season structure in place this year (owing to the Rugby World Cup), the Gallagher Premiership season will start slightly later, and include a rest period during the Six Nations. This is a beneficial change for the whole league, ensuring that international players are available and promoting Premiership Rugby for much of the season. Tickets for our opening three Premiership games and all our Premiership Cup fixtures will go on sale on the 1st August.  Our Venue Sales Team have been working hard to update and improve the hospitality packages for next season and I’m pleased to say we are already taking bookings for the first three games. If you are interested in learning more about our hospitality packages, please do get in touch with us here.  

We are delighted to have over 5000 Club Members already signed up for next season, with another 200 Gloucester-Hartpury Club Memberships sold in our first season too. There’s still time to secure yours if you haven’t yet. Being a Club Member is the most cost-effective way to secure your spot at every regular home fixture next season. All Club Membership packs will be sent out over the coming month. You can get your membership here

2023/24 season 

As we edge closer towards September, work is continuing behind the scenes across the business in readiness for the new season. Our ambition remains to deliver success for our Club at every level; either through on-field success, through our inspiring work within the community or the experiences we all enjoy at our stadium. We have always benefitted from a strong brand and an incredible fan base; now is the time we strengthen that to put Gloucester Rugby at the top of the table in all areas. 

I’d also like to thank you for your tremendous ongoing support. Despite last season not finishing how we hoped, we still had record numbers of supporters turning out to watch our men’s and women’s teams. We hope that as we grow, you will remain on this journey with us and once again, thank you. I look forward to welcoming you back to Kingsholm again.  

I will keep everyone informed as things are firmed up in terms of long-term leadership for the Club. 

Best wishes, 


Content & Images from – Gloucester Rugby

Continue Reading