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Mark Wilson retires from rugby



(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Newcastle Falcons captain Mark Wilson has retired from rugby with immediate effect.

The 32-year-old came through the club’s academy and scored 42 tries in his 237 games, saying: “I’ve taken the decision to retire from rugby. It’s a decision that’s been hard to make, but it’s the right one for me and my family right now.

“I’ve been involved with the Falcons since I was a 14-year-old coming over from Kendal for academy training, and I’ve got some amazing memories. You never really know how you’re going to end your career, but for me, this is my time to call it a day.”

Cumbrian back-rower Wilson continued the Falcons’ proud tradition of growing their own, rising through the ranks to become a double centurion as well as representing his country at the elite level of the game.

Having made one appearance from the bench this season following an operation on his knee, he said: “My injury has made me re-assess where I’m at from a career point of view.

“That has been in the background and been in my thoughts quite a lot, and whilst it hasn’t been the case that the injury has physically ended my career in its own right, it’s certainly been one of the main things which has added to my decision.”

As well as becoming a Newcastle Falcons great, the Cumbrian also won 23 caps for England between 2017 and 2021, playing in the 2019 Rugby World Cup final and winning the 2020 Six Nations Championship.

Newcastle Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards said: “We’re all gutted and disappointed that Mark is retiring from rugby, but he has made a massive contribution to this club.

“He epitomises what we are about as someone who has come through our academy system, and can look back and be proud about what was a fantastic career. I’m sure I speak for everybody associated with the Falcons when I say a heartfelt thank you for everything he has given us during his time here.

“Mark is a team man who has put his body on the line time and time again, he embodies our homegrown philosophy and we all felt an enormous sense of pride when he went on to do so well on the international stage. He has inspired so many local youngsters by coming through our academy and reaching such heights, and I’m sure he won’t be a stranger around the place.”

Newcastle Falcons chairman Semore Kurdi said: “Mark typifies what it means to be a Newcastle Falcon, as someone who has come through our academy and gone on to achieve everything he has.

“He always put the team above personal gain, he has been an incredible player and leader here for well over a decade and it gave us a huge amount of pride to see a homegrown talent recognised on the international stage when he was called up by England.

“I want to personally thank him for everything he has contributed to the club, and to rugby in our region. He will rightly be regarded as a Newcastle Falcons great who is always welcome here, and he will be an inspiration to the many talented young players currently in our academy system.

“We’ve got a wealth of highly-promising players working their way up our pathway which leaves us in great health for the future, and that’s thanks in no small part to the example Mark has given them.”

A fans’ favourite who sits at eighth in the list of first-team appearance-makers during the professional era, Wilson said: “The overriding message I want to put across is just to thank everyone, by which I mean my family, my team-mates, my coaches, all the staff at the club and our supporters.

“The Falcons fans have always been great with me, and one of the biggest buzzes I’ve had was coming out to play in front of a full Kingston Park Stadium.

“I’ll still be here supporting the team, and I’d love my son to come along and see where I used to play. So yeah, it’s just a massive ‘thank you’ from my side to all the Falcons supporters – it’s really meant so much to have all that backing during the time I’ve been here.”

With so many memories to look back on, Wilson said: “One of the fondest periods I can remember from my time here is when we came up from the Championship and had that real resurgence, going on to finish fourth and playing in the Premiership semi-finals.

“The Champions Cup campaign where we won away at Toulon and then beat Montpellier at home inside a fortnight was a great time to look back on, and the game where we won away at Leicester with the last play to book ourselves a top-four place.

“There’ll be loads more that I’ve forgotten, but overall just to be involved and to be lucky enough to lead the side in big games like that – it’s been really special.”

Asked about what lies ahead, he added: “I’ll still be coming to watch games and supporting the club, but for now it’s time to get on with the next part of my life.

“To begin with I just want to take some time off. My wife has started a new business within the past year so I want to support her in that, and I just want to be around for the kids a little bit more.

“I want to make sure I’m fully committed to the next thing that I do, and that it’s the right thing for me. I’m excited about what’s next for us as a family, and proud of what I’ve been able to contribute to the club during my time here.”

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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