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Team news: Thomas to start against Cardiff



Friday 16 December 2022

Welsh fly-half Josh Thomas starts for Newcastle Falcons on Saturday when they host Cardiff Rugby in EPCR Challenge Cup action.

The 5.30pm Kingston Park kick-off sees the Falcons making nine changes from the side which opened the campaign away to Connacht last weekend – Thomas taking the No.10 shirt in his first season after joining from Ospreys.

Argentina wing Mateo Carreras returns to the side determined to maintain his try-per-game ratio, having dotted down seven times in seven outings this term.

Elliott Obatoyinbo comes in at full-back, with Zach Kerr starting at inside centre in place of the injured Tom Penny, partnering Ben Stevenson.

Fit-again prop Trevor Davison takes up a place on the loose-head side, with England Under-20s hooker Ollie Fletcher handed a start. Jamie Blamire misses out with a head knock picked up last weekend, while Charlie Maddison is serving the first of his three-game suspension.

Sean Robinson returns to captain the side from blind-side flanker in a move which sees Matthew Dalton pushed into the second row, with open-side Guy Pepper the other returning player. Brett Connon and Iwan Stephens are added to the bench, with the Falcons playing the second of their four scheduled pool games.

Head coach Dave Walder insisted his squad have been able to prepare as usual for the game despite sub-zero temperatures throughout the week in North East England.

He said: “It’s been freezing cold all week but luckily our 3G pitch has meant we’ve been able to train as normal, and we’ve also got a first game under our new floodlights.

“Our home advantage of having a dark south-west corner of the pitch where anything goes might be lost now, but at least our supporters will be able to see the other end of the field!

“Cardiff obviously have a 3G of their own so they’ll be used to that side of things, and they play a brilliant brand of rugby from what I’ve seen of them.”

The Welsh region began their European campaign with a home win over French club Brive last Saturday, with Walder aware of the size of the challenge facing the Falcons.

“It should be a great contest, and it’s nice to be playing teams from other leagues,” he said.

“We love the Gallagher Premiership, I think it’s an outstanding competition with quality games every single week but it’s also a nice freshener to test yourself against new opposition and potentially be exposed to some different styles and challenges.

“Last week over at Connacht was very much like that, and we always enjoy the European competitions.”

Cardiff are led by experienced former Wales and Lions prop Dai Young, with Walder saying of the former Wasps boss: “Dai came to Wasps after my own time there had ended so I don’t know him very well personally, but he’s someone I have a lot of respect for and it will be great to catch up.

“I hope they get up here safely given all the transport disruption this week, and everyone’s just looking forward to 5.30pm on Saturday now.”

Click here to buy tickets for the game.

Season ticket holders and season parking pass holders are reminded that this game IS included in their 2022-23 package.

The match is being shown live on Viaplay.

Newcastle Falcons team v Cardiff Rugby (Saturday, 5.30pm, Kingston Park Stadium)

15 Elliott Obatoyinbo, 14 Nathan Earle, 13 Ben Stevenson, 12 Zach Kerr, 11 Mateo Carreras, 10 Josh Thomas, 9 Sam Stuart; 1 Trevor Davison, 2 Ollie Fletcher, 3 Mark Tampin, 4 Sebastian de Chaves, 5 Matthew Dalton, 6 Sean Robinson (captain), 7 Guy Pepper, 8 Tom Marshall.

Replacements: 16 Conrad Cade, 17 Adam Brocklebank, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 Josh Peters, 20 Marcus Tiffen, 21 Josh Barton, 22 Brett Connon, 23 Iwan Stephens.

Cardiff Rugby: 15 Ben Thomas, 14 Owen Lane, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Max Llewellyn, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Tomos Williams; 1 Rhys Carre, 2 Kirby Myhill, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 4 Seb Davies, 5 Rory Thornton, 6 Josh Turnbull (captain), 7 Ellis Jenkins, 8 Taulupe Faletau.

Replacements: 16 Liam Belcher, 17 Brad Thyer, 18 Will Davies-King, 19 Teddy Williams, 20 James Ratti, 21 Ellis Bevan, 22 Mason Grady, 23 Theo Cabango.

Not available for selection: Jamie Blamire, Phil Brantingham, Sam Clark, Connor Collett, Carl Fearns, Gary Graham, Louie Johnson, Conor Kenny, Freddie Lockwood, Pete Lucock, Charlie Maddison, Logovi’i Mulipola, Matias Orlando, Tom Penny, Oliver Spencer, Philip van der Walt, George Wacokecoke, Will Welch.

Referee: Vivien Praderie (France).

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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