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Falcons name team to face Harlequins



Friday 9 September 2022

Josh Barton makes his competitive debut for Newcastle Falcons on Saturday when they kick-off the new Gallagher Premiership season at home to Harlequins.

The 24-year-old scrum-half arrived from Coventry in the summer, and forms part of a side which sees a 50th club appearance for centre Ben Stevenson.

Prop-forward Phil Brantingham makes his first Premiership start on the loose-head side, with Newcastle welcoming back Sean Robinson from suspension and handing a start to Sebastian de Chaves as the lock begins his second spell with the club.

On the bench there could be a competitive debut for summer signing Tian Schoeman, the former Bath fly-half who ended an 18-month injury lay-off by appearing as a replacement in last Friday’s 33-29 victory at Doncaster Knights.

Head coach Dave Walder, now in full charge of first-team affairs, said: “Home against Harlequins is a great way to start the season, and we’re all buzzing to get into it.

“I was at the Gallagher Premiership launch last week in London and they put me up on stage for a Q&A with Tabai Matson from Harlequins and Steve Borthwick from Leicester – I think just out of sympathy for the length of journey I’d had! One of the questions was what’s the beauty of the Premiership, and I said it was the contrasting styles.

“For us, we’re facing Harlequins this weekend with their open running game which has won them a Premiership title two years ago and got them to a semi-final last season, and then in round two we travel to Leicester to face a completely different, but just as successful, approach.

“It’s tough, of course, but we’ve spoken a lot about our attitude and showing people what Newcastle Falcons are all about. The players call it their ‘True North’ mind-set, and it’s things like being positive in our decision-making, the way we talk to each other and everything around the place being about looking forward.

“If we get our attitude right on Saturday we can give a good account of ourselves, and then go down to Leicester the week after. So yeah, it’s a tough start, but it’s one we’re really looking forward to.”

Relishing the chance to take the lead role, Walder knows the Falcons have work to do in putting behind them the disappointment of how the previous campaign fizzled out.

“It’s no secret that last season we lost momentum with a few bits and pieces going on, but things became clearer during the off-season and we’ve gone on from there,” said the former England fly-half, who was a European Cup, domestic cup and Premiership title winner during his playing days.

“We got more clarity on exactly what the coaching team was going to be, the coaches and players have worked really well together and now here we are on the eve of the season. It’s exciting, and I can’t wait to get going.

“As much as we can say it’s a new coaching set-up in some ways, when you look at myself, Mark Laycock, Micky Ward, Scott MacLeod and Mark Wilson – we’ve all been around the club for years and know what this place is about.

“We know what’s needed, and the guys have added some new ideas and new energy to what we already had in place. Mark Laycock has been working hard to get our attack firing again, Micky and Scotty will work their magic with the forwards and Mark Wilson and I will lead on the defensive side of things. The proof will be in the pudding once we get into the games, but it’s a really exciting time for us.”

Giving fans a flavour of what he hopes to see as the season develops, Walder said: “We’re going to play a style of rugby which we believe will bring us success, and we’ll challenge sides in different ways.

“I always talk about the fact I was brought up on the ‘Entertainers’ era with Kevin Keegan at Newcastle United, and especially with the financial climate being as it is at the moment for people, we’ve got to be putting something on that they want to come and watch.

“People of course want to watch successful teams, but they also want to watch teams with local lads in, playing a style of rugby which befits the region.

“It’s about balancing all of that, and there will be ups and downs along the way. I don’t think we’ll get there in the first two or three weeks of the season, but I believe we’ll make it clearer for people in showing them where we’re trying to get to. Hopefully our supporters will buy in with us, we’ll improve week on week and ultimately end up in a good place.”

Click here to buy tickets for Saturday’s game, or click here to purchase your PRTV live stream.

Newcastle Falcons team v Harlequins (Saturday, 3pm, Kingston Park Stadium)

15 Alex Tait, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Ben Stevenson, 12 Pete Lucock, 11 Nathan Earle, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Josh Barton; 1 Phil Brantingham, 2 George McGuigan, 3 Trevor Davison, 4 Greg Peterson, 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 6 Sean Robinson, 7 Jamie Blamire, 8 Will Welch (captain).

Replacements: 16 Charlie Maddison, 17 Logovi’i Mulipola, 18 Mark Tampin, 19 George Merrick, 20 Tom Marshall, 21 Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 George Wacokecoke.

Not available for selection: Adam Brocklebank, Callum Chick, Jeremy Civil, Connor Collett, Luke Coulston, Matthew Dalton, Matt Deehan, Mark Dormer, Carl Fearns, Gary Graham, Louie Johnson, Freddie Lockwood, Matias Moroni, Chidera Obonna, Matias Orlando, Tom Penny, Guy Pepper, Vereimi Qorowale, Charlie Smith, Sam Stuart, Philip van der Walt, Michael Young.

Harlequins: 15 Tyrone Green, 14 Nick David, 13 Luke Northmore, 12 Lennox Anyanwu, 11 Cadan Murley, 10 Tommy Allan, 9 Lewis Gjaltema; 1 Joe Marler, 2 George Head, 3 Wilco Louw, 4 George Hammond, 5 Irne Herbst, 6 Jack Kenningham, 7 Tom Lawday, 8 Alex Dombrandt (captain).

Replacements: 16 Jack Walker, 17 Simon Kerrod, 18 Will Collier, 19 Dino Lamb, 20 Will Evans, 21 Jack Stafford, 22 Will Edwards, 23 Joe Marchant.

Referee: Luke Pearce.

Source – Newcastle Falcons Rugby


Cokanasiga confirms future



Bath Rugby can confirm England international Joe Cokanasiga has committed his future to the club.

The 25-year-old has been in fine form this season, scoring four tries in nine Gallagher Premiership matches to date, and joins Tom Dunn, Will Stuart, Sam Underhill, Cameron Redpath and Ben Spencer in extending his time at The Rec. 

“Joe has been excellent for us this season and we’re delighted he will be staying with us,” Head of Rugby Johann van Graan said.

“He has great physical attributes which he uses to great effect, and his offloading ability in contact has provided us with fantastic attacking opportunities.

“He is an exciting player for us and we have no doubt he will continue to be an integral member of our squad.”

Cokanasiga has flourished under van Graan and has had a notable influence in games due to his power and pace. 

Since arriving in the West Country, the bulldozing wing has featured over 50 times for the Blue, Black and White whilst also making a significant impact on the international stage.

Debuting in 2018 against Japan, Cokanasiga has scored 12 tries in 14 Test matches, adding to his 21 in Bath colours. 

“There are goals I still want to accomplish here,” he said. 

“I really want to mark my time at the club by winning trophies; that’s a big ambition of mine. 

“A lot of change has taken place over the past few years, but this season I’ve found consistency in my performances. I feel I’ve positively contributed to the club’s progression and I’m excited by what’s to come in the next chapter.”



Bath Rugby return to action on Saturday 18 February against London Irish before hosting Bristol Bears on Friday 24 February.

Exeter Chiefs head to The Rec on Sunday 26 March in our penultimate home outing.

Whatever takes your fancy, get your tickets!




Content & Images from – Bath Rugby

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Chiefs fullback agrees new deal



Exeter Chiefs

By Mark Stevens

Josh Hodge says he’s ‘over the moon’ to have agreed a new long-term deal with the Exeter Chiefs.

The gifted full-back has pledged his future to the Devon club and believes an exciting period lies ahead for him and everyone at Sandy Park.

Signed in the summer of 2020 from Gallagher Premiership rivals Newcastle Falcons, the 22-year-old has to date made 37 first-team appearances, scoring 39 points in all competitions.

He is seen by many, including Director of Rugby, Rob Baxter, as one of the crown jewels in Exeter’s exciting vision for the future and news that he is staying put for the foreseeable future will be welcomed by everyone connected with the Chiefs.

“To be honest, it wasn’t a hard decision to sign a new contract with this fantastic club,” said Hodge. “Personally, I’m over the moon and I’m looking forward to my future here in the sunny county of Devon.

“There has been a lot of effort, good business decisions and hard work, both in training and on the pitch, to achieve the results the club has achieved in recent years.”

Alongside Hodge, the Chiefs are investing heavily in bringing through their next crop of young talent, such as Dafydd Jenkins, Christ Tshiunza, Marcus Street, Richard Capstick, Sam Maunder, Will Becconsall and Greg Fisilau to name but a few.

“I’m looking forward to working with the team to help the club attain its rightful position towards the top of all the competitions we take part in and justify the efforts of past players and trainers,” added Hodge.

“All the building blocks have been put in place by the board, backroom staff and coaches and it’s up to the team to work tirelessly to put the cherry on the cake and deliver the results the Chiefs and our fans deserve.”

Others within the current Chiefs ranks are expected to confirm they are also extending their stays with the club in the coming days and weeks.

Content & Images from – Exeter Chiefs Rugby

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Tigers sign Brown on short-term contract



Leicester Tigers can confirm the signing of Mike Brown on a short-term contract.

The outside-back joins Tigers after previously representing Harlequins, where he won two Premiership titles, and Newcastle Falcons.

Brown has made 72 Test appearances for England and featured in three Six Nations winning campaigns for the national side.

Speaking about the addition of Brown, Leicester Tigers Head Coach Richard Wigglesworth said: “Mike is an experienced Premiership player, who has represented his country and won trophies at club and Test level.

“His experience and his knowledge is vital during this Six Nations period where we have a number of players away.

“Mike is hungry to prove himself out on the pitch and impressed us with not only what he’s saying and doing off the pitch, but his efforts on the field and willingness to help those guys around him.

“Above all, Mike is a competitor and wants to be successful. We want those attributes in our players and he offers that.”

Discussing the move to Leicester Tigers, Brown said: “To join a club like this with all of its history and players who have been here before, it is amazing.”

“When Leicester Tigers offer you the chance to go into the environment, it is a hard one to turn down.”

Brown joins after a trial period at the club, about which he added: “To get the chance to come into the environment has been great so far and a really positive experience for me.”

“It has just had a great impression on me, led by enthusiastic coaches – one of which in Wiggy I have played a lot of rugby with – and then equally, all of the players have welcomed me in.

“I have felt sharp and it has been really good out on the field with this group of Tigers players.”

Brown recently featured for The Barbarians and, looking ahead to a potential return to professional rugby, said: “I still believe I have a part to play in the game. I didn’t believe it was my time to stop because I felt good and I still feel good.”

“I have been staying fit, wanting to be ready and not just hanging on to hope but being best prepared if it did.”

Brown joins the club effective immediately.

Content & Images from – Leicester Tigers Rugby

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