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Team news: Four debutants for Wasps trip



Josh Thomas starts at fly-half

Tuesday 20 September 2022

Newcastle Falcons give competitive debuts to four players tonight when they open their Premiership Rugby Cup campaign away to Wasps, with Josh Thomas, Josh Peters, Elliott Obatoyinbo and Nathan Greenwood all making their first appearances in the 7.45pm kick-off at Coventry Building Society Arena.

Fly-half Thomas and lock-forward Peters joined the Falcons in the summer from Ospreys and Doncaster respectively, with former Saracens full-back Obatoyinbo arriving last week on a two-month deal.

Winger Greenwood, 18, made his England 7s debut over the summer, with the former Whitley Bay Rockliff flyer coming through the Falcons’ ACE programme at Gosforth Academy.

Hooker Charlie Maddison captains a Newcastle team showing the full 15 changes from Saturday’s league trip to Leicester Tigers, with England Under-20s international Louie Johnson starting at inside centre.

Iwan Stephens starts on the wing after a pre-season campaign which saw him scoring a try and making another away to Leicester Tigers, with scrum-half James Blackett part of a starting XV containing nine current or former Falcons academy players.

Centre Jeremy Civil is another debutant in waiting, with the Falcons’ ACE graduate having played his junior rugby with Wensleydale RFC and Cumbria.

The Falcons have drafted in a trio of local student players to complete their match-day squad, with Northumbria University lock Will Hopes being joined among the replacements by Newcastle University pair Rory Ward and George Bennett-Teare, the latter of whom made a similar guest appearance away to Northampton Saints during last season’s competition.

Tonight’s trip to Wasps is the first of four Premiership Rugby Cup games for the Falcons, who host Sale Sharks on Tuesday September 27 before travelling to Leicester Tigers on Wednesday October 19, completing their pool campaign at home to Northampton Saints on Saturday November 19.

The three pool winners and one best runner-up will progress through to the semi-finals on February 24/25/26, with the final to be held on May 2/3.

Fitting the cup games into a packed league programme has proved a challenge for head coach Dave Walder, who said: “A Saturday to Tuesday turnaround is unusual for us and feels like a bit of a football fixture list.

“We’ve got three away games in the space of eight days, which would stretch any squad, and when you chuck in the number of injuries we’ve had then it’s just one of those things.

“We’ve got a good group of lads who are desperate to play rugby, though, and for a lot of those guys this will be a great opportunity.”

A former Wasp in his own playing days, the former England fly-half said: “It’s important for us to go down to Wasps and get our first win of the season, but the fact we’ve got those three away games inside the same week just dictates our decision-making in terms of the squad we will travel down with.

“It’s great for us to get a proper look at some of our lads in that match scenario, although the timing probably isn’t ideal with the way the fixtures have fallen.

“It is what it is, though, it’s a great opportunity for the lads and we’ll go down there looking forward to giving it a good go.”

Tonight’s game is not on TV and is not being live-streamed, but there will be live radio coverage from the BBC Newcastle team on their DAB frequency as well as the BBC Rugby website, BBC Sport app and Freeview channel 719.

Newcastle Falcons team v Wasps (Tuesday, 7.45pm, Coventry Building Society Arena)

15 Elliott Obatoyinbo, 14 Nathan Greenwood, 13 Zach Kerr, 12 Louie Johnson, 11 Iwan Stephens, 10 Josh Thomas, 9 James Blackett; 1 Conrad Cade, 2 Charlie Maddison (captain), 3 Conor Kenny, 4 George Merrick, 5 Josh Peters, 6 Matt Deehan, 7 Marcus Tiffen, 8 Tom Marshall.

Replacements: 16 Ollie Fletcher, 17 Mark Dormer, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 Will Hopes (Northumbria University), 20 George Bennett-Teare (Newcastle University), 21 Rory Ward (Newcastle University), 22 Ben Douglas, 23 Jeremy Civil.

Not available for selection: Adam Brocklebank, Callum Chick, Luke Coulston, Matthew Dalton, Nathan Earle, Gary Graham, Pete Lucock, Matias Moroni, Logovi’i Mulipola, Chidera Obonna, Matias Orlando, Tom Penny, Guy Pepper, Vereimi Qorowale, Charlie Smith, Sam Stuart, Philip van der Walt, Michael Young.

Guest player bios:

George Bennett-Teare: Back row, Newcastle University, 01/02/2002, 193cm, 110kg.

Will Hopes: Lock, Northumbria University, 20/7/2001, 194cm, 105kg.

Rory Ward: Lock, Newcastle University, 01/03/2003, 196cm, 108kg.

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

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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

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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

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