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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





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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