After an 18-year career which saw him featuring in a Rugby World Cup final and winning three Premiership titles, Newcastle Falcons fly-half Toby Flood has retired from playing professional rugby.
The 36-year-old will remain at the Falcons as kicking and skills coach – a role he will combine with studying for his Masters degree in business at Cambridge University.
“Dean Richards and I discussed the idea a little bit towards the end of last season, and as time went on the way my body was, and the fact I was going away to university for parts of the year – it just seemed to make sense,” said Flood, who played 141 times during his two spells with the Falcons.
Winning three Premiership titles during his 119 appearances with Leicester Tigers and earning 60 caps for England, Flood also spent three seasons with French giants Toulouse in a glittering playing career.
In typically self-deprecating fashion, he joked: “It was alright – I think it went okay!
“I made my first-team debut against Wasps in 2004 and we got pumped 83-10 away to Leicester live on TV in my second game – and then my last professional appearance was a big defeat away to Exeter live on TV just to book-end it nicely!
“It’s obviously not the way you would want it to finish, but there were a lot of good times in between.
“A professional rugby career just flies by, and it’s mad to think this was going to be my 18th pre-season. I know a lot of people who haven’t been anywhere near that lucky, and I’m incredibly grateful to have had such a long stint.
“There’s a lot of pleasure and satisfaction from every stop on that journey, and too many people to thank. The good wins are the ones that create the best memories and the bad losses are the ones that tend to stick in your mind more – but it was fun while it lasted.”
Now looking to further his coaching and academic ambitions, Flood said: “We had a conversation at the club about how best to move forward, and we decided to go down the route of me working as a kicking and skills coach.
“It’s still good to be around the boys and nice to have that transfer within the club, and the other good thing is I’ve still got the university stuff going on in the background.
“It’s all happened quite quickly in the end and I was still keen to play, but the more I thought about it and chatted it through with Dean, it just became more and more obvious that this was the best solution. We’ve got a load of good young players coming through at the Falcons, and if I can help facilitate them as a coach then I think that’s a positive result.
“I’ll still play a few games for Cambridge University depending on how the body is, and I think that’s quite a nice way to finish up as a player along with my studies and my coaching.”
Already a few weeks into his new role, he said: “I’m enjoying getting into the coaching side of things.
“You come into it with lots of ideas, and I’m lucky enough to be working with some really experienced coaches who know what they’re doing. Dave Walder as head coach and Mark Laycock on the skills side are both guys who are doing a really fantastic job, and to be able to work with people of that ability is great for me.
“I’m hoping to add value for the players by working them pretty hard on their kicking technique, and with what I’ve experienced during my career I believe I can do that.”
Newcastle Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards said: “Toby can look back with great pride on an outstanding playing career for club and country.
“He has been in the very top bracket of English fly-halves for well over a decade, and will now add enormous value to us from a coaching perspective.
“He’s a very intelligent guy who understands the game incredibly well, so it’s fantastic news that he will remain at the club and be part of the exciting future that we’re all working towards.”
Pat Lam commits long-term future to Bristol Bears
Pat Lam has committed his long-term future to Bristol Bears.
The Director of Rugby agrees a new five-year contract, following the completion of his existing deal, until the end of the 2027/2028 campaign.
The most successful Bristol coach since the game turned professional, Lam achieved an immediate promotion back to the top-flight in his first season at the helm. In 2019, he led Bears to ninth position – the highest points tally for a newly promoted club in twelve years.
A year later, Bristol clinched a third placed finish in the Gallagher Premiership and secured their first major silverware since 1983 with a European Challenge Cup Final victory over Toulon.
“He has embraced the rebrand and our vision of ‘Inspiring Our Community Through Rugby Success’. From the Academy to our Women’s team, Pat lives and breathes our mission every day. He has given the city a rugby club we can be proud of.”
Then, last season, Bristol recorded their highest ever regular season position, topping the table and making the Champions Cup knockout stages, while Lam was awarded Global Reach Director of Rugby of the Year.
Owner Steve Lansdown said: “What Pat and his team have achieved in a short space of time at Bristol Bears is excellent, but it’s not just the way that the team have performed on the field, it’s the culture and standards he has set to continually drive the organisation forward.
“Bristol Bears are on an exciting journey, and we are delighted to have Pat at the forefront of that. He has embraced the rebrand and our vision of ‘Inspiring Our Community Through Rugby Success’. From the Academy to our Women’s team, Pat lives and breathes our mission every day. He has given the city a rugby club we can be proud of.”
Chairman Chris Booy said: “We’re delighted to have secured Pat’s signature on a long-term contract. It’s no surprise he would have the interest of every top club in the world, so it’s testament to the ambition of the Bears that Pat was eager to stay.
“We are absolutely aligned on the direction of the club. Bristol Bears will continue to grow and we will achieve sustainable success at the top of the domestic and European game.
“Pat has built a squad of humble young men who not only represent our community superbly, they play an innovative brand of rugby that has everybody taking notice.”
Director of Rugby Pat Lam said: “It’s an absolute honour to continue as Director of Rugby at Bristol Bears. To have the opportunity to work with a great group of people, and to represent our community with pride and love is very special.
“I am grateful to have the continued support of Steve, Jon and Chris and I’m thankful that they have entrusted me to keep leading the Bristol Bears along our journey of Inspiring Our Community Through Rugby Success.
“While we have come a long way in the last four years, I am really excited by what is still to come as we challenge all of us individually and collectively to raise the bar every day.
“I genuinely believe that now we have all our Men, Women and Academy aligned as one club, we are poised to bring a lot of inspiration and success, on and off the field, for many years ahead and I feel very humbled to be a part of it.”
Harlequins squad for 2021/22 campaign
Harlequins’ coaching team have announced the Club’s squad to tackle the 2021/22 campaign
Director of Rugby Performance Billy Millard and Senior Coach Tabai Matson have named a 61-man squad for the season ahead, consisting of 37 senior squad members and 24 Harlequins Academy players.
Second row Stephan Lewies will continue to lead the Club having led the men in the Famous Quarters to a Gallagher Premiership trophy in just his first season as Club Captain last year, with the Springbok lock ready to lead his side as they look to defend their title.
“I’m honoured to be able to continue leading Harlequins alongside a strong senior group,” said Lewies. “This is a special group and a special place. We’ll look to keep serving this team to the best of our ability.
“We know the challenge we face this season. It will be different to those we faced last season. We’re excited by the challenge and looking to continuously grow as a team.
“We are determined to not stand still; to keep improving as the season goes on and peak at the right time.
“We want to stay true to our DNA playing the Quins way with smiles on our faces.”
Eager to kick-off his first competitive game with Quins this weekend, Matson said: “We’re delighted with how the squad has shaped up over the summer. We’ve had two great pre-season games to prep, and the team are so focused on starting the season playing the Harlequins Way this season again.
“There’s a heap of hugely talented individuals here that went all the way last year, but, equally, we’ve had some stellar players and people join us over the off season who will help Quins continue that development.
“What’s really impressed me has been how determined everyone in the group is to continue evolving the rugby this year. Staying true to that Harlequins style but improving on any weaknesses. It’s an exciting playing and coaching group to be a part of and we can’t wait to get started on Sunday.”
David Ofori Manteaw*
Santiago Garcia Botta
Stephan Lewies – Captain
Team news: Bristol Bears vs Saracens – GP R1
Bristol Bears welcome newly promoted Saracens to Ashton Gate Stadium in a mouthwatering Gallagher Premiership opener on Friday (7.45pm KO).
A bumper crowd is expected in BS3 as Pat Lam’s men return to action under the lights in the competition curtain raiser.
Steven Luatua will skipper the side from the back row, while Bears include eight internationals in the starting line-up.
Harry Randall returns from England duty to take his place in the 23-man squad among the replacements.
Bristol Bears team to face Saracens at Ashton Gate Stadium on Friday, September 17th (7.45pm KO):
15. Charles Piutau; 14. Luke Morahan, 13. Piers O’Conor, 12. Alapati Leiua, 11. Ioan Lloyd; 10. Callum Sheedy, 9. Andy Uren; 1. Jake Woolmore, 2. Harry Thacker, 3. Max Lahiff, 4. Ed Holmes, 5. Chris Vui, 6. Steven Luatua (c), 7. Dan Thomas, 8. Nathan Hughes.
System players: 16. Will Capon, 17. Yann Thomas, 18. Jake Armstrong, 19. Dave Attwood, 20. Jake Heenan, 21. Harry Randall, 22. Sam Bedlow, 23. Niyi Adeolokun.
Unavailable: Bryan Byrne, John Afoa, Kyle Sinckler, Joe Joyce, Tom Whiteley, Tiff Eden, Semi Radradra, Henry Purdy, Siva Naulago.
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