The Newcastle Falcons are an English rugby union team that plays in the RFU Championship. The club was established in 1877 as the Gosforth Football Club. Around 1882 the club merged with the Northumberland Football Club and briefly assumed their name until 1887. In 1990, the name was changed to Newcastle Gosforth and the club began to play at Kingston Park stadium in Kingston Park, Newcastle upon Tyne. In 1996, following the start of "open era" the club briefly adopted the name Newcastle Rugby Club before adopting its current name.
|Full name||Newcastle Falcons|
|Location||Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, England|
|Ground(s)||Kingston Park (Capacity: 10,200)|
|CEO||Mick Hogan (MD)|
|Director of Rugby||Dean Richards|
|Top scorer||Jonny Wilkinson (2005)|
|2018–19||Premiership, 12th (relegated)|
|Newcastle Falcons 156–5 Rugby Lions |
|Leicester Tigers 83–10 Newcastle Falcons |
The Falcons are currently the only professional rugby union club in North East England, with one Premiership and four domestic cups to their name. It also boasted a number of home-grown internationals including Jonny Wilkinson, Jamie Noon, Mathew Tait, Toby Flood, Dave Wilson, Geoff Parling, Phil Dowson, Lee Dickson, Kieran Brookes and Mark Wilson.
After six years in top-flight rugby, a loss on 4 May 2019 to Gloucester Rugby (28-19) saw Newcastle officially relegated to the RFU Championship for the 2019/20 season. A club statement confirmed that Dean Richards would continue as the Director of Rugby during the Championship season .
- Gosforth Football Club (1877–1882)
- Northumberland Football Club (1882–1887); Merged with Northumberland FC and assumed their name.
- Gosforth Football Club (1887–1990); Reverted name back to Gosforth FC.
- Newcastle Gosforth (1990–1995)
- Newcastle Rugby Club (1996); Turned professional; Junior players let go and formed Gosforth Rugby Football Club.
- Newcastle Falcons (1997–present)
Early years (1877–1990s)Edit
The original Gosforth Football Club was founded in 1877 by a group of Old Boys of Durham School, in whose colours of green and white hoops the club played until the mid-1990s. The name Gosforth came from one of the suburbs of Newcastle upon Tyne. In 1955, the club moved to a new ground at North Road which was to be its home until 1990. During that time and particularly in the late 1970s Gosforth enjoyed tremendous success both on and off the field winning the John Player Cup in seasons 1975–76 and 1976–77.
Gosforth supplied innumerable players to all counties over the years, to the North of England sides and to the full international and British Lions teams. These include Arthur Smith, Ray McLoughlin, Malcolm Young, Roger Uttley, Peter Dixon, Duncan Madsen, Dave Robinson, Richard Breakey, Jim Pollock and Colin White.
In 1990 the club name was changed to Newcastle Gosforth and they moved to Kingston Park. Gosforth Rugby Football Club continued as an amateur side working in partnership with Northumbria University and currently play at Broadway West.
For the 1996–97 season the new name of Newcastle Falcons and new black-and-white colours were adopted, after local businessman Sir John Hall took control and attempted to create a sporting club in Newcastle that would emulate the success of the Barcelona model. The four teams that made up that sporting club were the football team, nicknamed the Magpies, the Newcastle Eagles basketball team, the Newcastle Wasps (later Riverkings, Jokers, Vipers) ice hockey team and the Newcastle Falcons rugby union team.
Newcastle was the first fully "professional" club in the world. In 1995, Sir John Hall installed former Wasps captain Rob Andrew as his salaried Director of Rugby and saw the club earn promotion from the national Second Division to the Premiership.
The following season, Newcastle became English Premiership champions at their first attempt in 1997–98. Alongside Andrew, the Championship winning side starred cross-code All Black, Samoa and Rugby League legend Inga Tuigamala, Scotland legends Doddie Weir and Gary Armstrong, England star Tony Underwood, British and Irish Lions stars Alan Tait and John Bentley and youngster Jonny Wilkinson.
During the following 1998–99 season Newcastle didn't play in Europe, as English teams did not take part, but the Falcons did go on to the Tetley's Bitter Cup final against Wasps, which was lost 29–19. In 1999, Rob Andrew retired allowing for 20-year-old international Jonny Wilkinson to assume the fly half role full-time. Andrew would remain as Director of Rugby.
Hall sold the Falcons for a 'nominal' sum in 1999 to local businessman Dave Thompson, under whom the Falcons won two Powergen Cups: in 2001 the Falcons beat Harlequins FC 30–27; and in 2004 the Falcons beat 37–33 against Sale Sharks.
In 2004, legendary Wallabies full-back Matt Burke signed for the Falcons. For the Falcons, Burke played alongside former English rival Jonny Wilkinson (his opposite kicker in the 2001 British and Irish Lions tour of Australia). In Wilkinson, Burke, England international Dave Walder and emerging future England number 10 Toby Flood the Falcons had adequate competition for kicking duties over the coming seasons, despite long term injuries to Jonny Wilkinson. During the 2004–05 season the Falcons recorded their best ever Heineken Cup performance to date by winning their pool and progressing to a quarter-final tie against Stade Français in the Parc des Princes.
In August 2006 Rob Andrew left the Falcons to take charge of the England set-up ahead of the 2007 World Cup in a wide-ranging role that encompasses all aspects of the professional representative game in England. John Fletcher succeeded Rob Andrew as director of rugby at Newcastle Falcons with immediate effect. Fletcher, a former England A centre, had been the club's academy boss and he headed up a team of Peter Walton, Steve Black and Bob Morton, with ex-Falcons prop Ian Peel taking over as acting academy manager.
The season began with high hopes as All-Black prop Carl Hayman signed for the Falcons, reportedly as the highest paid Rugby Union player in the world. Unfortunately, the season was the beginning of a downward spiral for the Falcons. On 11 March 2008, Fletcher and Walton left the club, officially by mutual consent, following Black who had left a couple of months earlier. Steve Bates took over as interim director of rugby until summer 2008 when the post was reviewed. Dave Thompson stated at that time that nine years of underachievement were the reason for the departure of John Fletcher and Peter Walton.
Having said this, Bates guided the Falcons to a record-equalling run of seven consecutive Premiership defeats by April 2008 with home games against Leicester Tigers and London Wasps plus a season-concluding away trip to Worcester Warriors yet to come. Defeat in the European Challenge Cup semi-final against Worcester Warriors on 25 April 2008 may well have sounded the death knell for Steve Bates' tenure as interim DoR. However, on Tuesday 20 May 2008 Steve Bates was confirmed as Newcastle's Director of Rugby on a full-time basis. At the end of the season, fly-half Toby Flood left for Leicester Tigers and full-back Mathew Tait signed for Sale Sharks, as the struggling Falcons failed to hold onto young English international talent. England Saxons scrum-half Lee Dickson would also depart for Northampton Saints, where he would go on to earn full international honours. Legendary Australia full back Matt Burke retired due to injury at the end of the campaign.
In November 2008 Chairman Dave Thompson put an end to speculation of a takeover of the club after rejecting three bids. He held talks with a number of different consortia and reportedly turned down one offer of a full take over as the bidding consortium wanted to relocate the club to Darlington. Furthermore, he said the speculation had led to instability in the club which was unsettling players and fans alike. On the pitch the Falcons reached another European Challenge Cup quarter-final going down to Saracens away from home and finished 10th in the Premiership. This season marked the end of an era as legendary fly-half Jonny Wilkinson left the club for RC Toulonnais. England under-20s fly-half Rory Clegg also left for Harlequins as Jimmy Gopperth was signed as replacement fly-half. The loss of Wilkinson was compounded by the departure of future British and Irish Lions star Geoff Parling who continued the outflow of talent, leaving for Leicester Tigers. Another trio who would go on to achieve England honours in Phil Dowson, Dave Wilson and Tom May also left for Northampton Saints, Bath Rugby and RC Toulonnais respectively.
The Falcons failed to replace the character and quality which had departed, with imports Gcobani Bobo and Filipo Levi flattering to deceive, Gopperth the sole bright spot. After a disappointing season the pressure mounted on Steve Bates and on 4 May 2010, the club announced that Bates' contract had been terminated and he was being replaced by first team coach Alan Tait. The decision came after Newcastle went on an unbeaten run to quash any doubts of relegation largely due to an inspirational Carl Hayman. But a crushing home European Challenge Cup Quarter Final defeat by Cardiff Blues signalled the end of the Bates era. Following the loss of England talent Flood, Tait and Wilkinson in previous seasons, the last remaining England international at the club, Jamie Noon, departed for CA Brive. The front line was also notably weakened when club captain Hayman left the Falcons once his lucrative contract expired, to join former teammate Wilkinson at RC Toulonnais.
Towards the end of the previous season Chairman Dave Thompson had to seek investment for the club due to increasing debts following the Nationalisation of Northern Rock, the club's main sponsor. After months of speculation, it was announced that local businessman Semore Kurdi had purchased a 40% stake in the club in September 2010, easing the club's financial difficulties. Scotland number 8 Allister Hogg was signed, while Scotland and Lions prop Euan Murray also arrived to plug the gap left by Hayman. On the pitch in Alan Tait's first season the Falcons reached the Anglo-Welsh Cup final, losing to Gloucester 34–7. Despite this relative success the Falcons finished their worst ever Premiership season with just 23 points (four wins), only escaping relegation thanks to the inferior points difference of Leeds Carnegie. England Saxons pair, scrum-half Micky Young and prop Kieran Brookes, would both depart for Leicester Tigers at the end of the campaign.
The huge outflow of talent from 2008 onwards, and lack of suitable reinforcements, would come to bear during this campaign. Samoa international centre Jamie Helleur was a rare quality signing. The 2011–12 season saw Newcastle Falcons relegated from the Premiership. The Falcons started the season badly but rallied midway through as Gary Gold took over. After changing the set up at Kingston Park, the club nearly escaped relegation, but London Wasps held on to secure their Premiership status by a point. Despite finishing with a higher points total than the year before (32) it was not enough to keep them up. The Falcons still had a small hope that London Welsh may be refused Premiership status, however Welsh were promoted after an appeal. Many players, including Euan Murray, subsequently left the club.
The Falcons' season in the Championship sees the much changed side coached by director of rugby Dean Richards who appointed Will Welch as club captain, while experienced international locks Scott MacLeod (rugby union) and Carlo Del Fava were signed. The Falcons won their first game of the season 37–20 against Bristol  and went on to win their second 49-32 against London Scottish. At the half way point of the season the Falcons were maintaining their unbeaten run, including a 24–13 score against a touring Tongan national side during the first international game to be held at Kingston Park since 1990. Former England Saxons wing Noah Cato signed from Northampton Saints to assist in the promotion push.
The Falcons confirmed their place in the Championship play off semi-final with a bonus point win at home to Cornish Pirates on 22 February 2013 and their position as league leaders was confirmed early the following month. At the conclusion of the season, the Falcons defeated the Bedford Blues 49–33 on aggregate in the final to win promotion back to the Premiership for the 2013–14 season.
Prior to the beginning of the Falcon's return to the Aviva Premiership, star fly-half Jimmy Gopperth departed for Leinster Rugby. To replace Gopperth, former Falcon Rory Clegg was signed by Dean Richards for the second time, with Richards having previously signed Clegg for Harlequins when Clegg was just 19. Four years later, the return of Clegg, alongside the returning Kieran Brookes from Leicester Tigers, provided evidence that talent was coming back to the Falcons. The signings of former Scotland and Lions scrum-half Mike Blair from CA Brive, Saracens flanker Andy Saull, Scotland hooker Scott Lawson from London Irish, former Scotland fly half Phil Godman and one time France prop Franck Montanella showed the desire of the club to compete upon return to the top flight. Samoa wing Sinoti Sinoti and Argentina centre Gonzalo Tiesi were later added to the squad. Despite a difficult season, which saw a number of retirements through injury, including Carlo Del Fava, the Falcons secured their place in the Aviva Premiership for 2014–15.
The Falcons made a statement ahead of the 2014–15 season with the signing of 2010–11 Premiership top try scorer and three time Premiership winner Alesana Tuilagi. One of Alesana's six rugby playing brothers, Andy Tuilagi also signed for the Falcons. Another notable signing was Italy lock Joshua Furno, while Samoa lock Kane Thompson was another new addition. Rotherham Titans duo, Juan Pablo Socino and Ruki Tipuna also joined the club. The Falcons finished the season in 11th place, with a points total of 34.
Ahead of the 2015–16 campaign, England international prop Kieran Brookes and England under-20 lock Dominic Barrow departed for Northampton Saints and Leicester Tigers respectively. Fly halves Rory Clegg and Phil Godman, wing Noah Cato, flanker Andy Saull, scrum halves Mike Blair and Warren Fury along with centre Jamie Helleur were among those released.
A host of 2015 Rugby World Cup stars were signed in Tonga flanker and captain Nili Latu, Tonga scrum half Sonatane Takulua, Italy wing Giovanbattista Venditti and Scotland prop Jon Welsh. The return of former star scrum half Micky Young was also a coup for the Falcons, alongside one time All Black cap, fly half Mike Delany and former England lock Mouritz Botha.
Following seven years in bath, England prop Dave Wilson returned to the Falcons. Classy France international centre Maxime Mermoz also joined mid-season. Winger Vereniki Goneva had most metres in the Premiership with 1,615 while Mark Wilson received his first England caps.
Ahead of the 2017-18 campaign, former England fly-half Toby Flood returned after nine years in Leicester and Toulouse.
On 17 January 2018, the Falcons were presented with a winding up petition by HMRC.
Falcons ended the 2017-18 Season in 4th place in the Premiership Rugby table, Their highest placing in 20 years. Falcons played Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park in the Semi-Finals where they lost 36-5 yet Fans, Players and Staff were delighted with the season outcome. In a year when the promotion of Rugby Union in North-East England was vital, Falcons lead the charge with events like "The Big One" and "Big Night Oot" being major events along with the 4 sell-out matches hosted at Kingston Park. Rob Vickers, Scott Lawson and Ally Hogg all retired following the end of the Season after upholding exceptional careers over a decade. Scott Wilson, aged 24 at the time, was forced to retire due to a Neck Injury he sustained in the Semi-Final against Exeter. A benefit dinner was held in Early 2019 to raise funds for Wilson's chosen charity.
Falcons returned to the Heineken Champions Cup after a 13 year absence. They were drawn to play against Toulon, Montpellier and Edinburgh in Pool 5. On October 14th, Falcons started their European Campaign against Toulon at Stade Felix Mayol. Less than 30 seconds into the game and Toulon were already on the board after Romain Taofifénua charged down the kick off and scored a try, one of the quickest tries scored in the history of the competition. In the fourth quarter of the game, three of Toulon's players were sin-binned and they were forced to make a decision after being awarded a penalty within kicking distance. However, instead of going for the posts they elected for a five-metre line-out which failed to result in a try. The final score came to 25-26 as Falcons become the second team in a European competition to beat Toulon, an accolade that only Saracens had achieved before.
Mark Wilson was announced in Eddie Jones' Autumn Internationals Squad following players being injured at the time. He started against England's 12-11 win over South Africa and won Quilter Internationals player of the series. He became a regular starter for England in the 2019 Six Nations along with Gary Graham making his debut for Scotland.
Following the success of the previous "The Big One", Falcons announced on December 4th that their match against northern rivals Sale Sharks would be played at Newcastle United's St. James' Park. The match would be held as a Charity Event in aid of Doddie Weir and the My Name’5 Doddie foundation. ISC incorporated the ‘Doddie’5 Tartan’ into the shoulders of the Charity Jersey along with the Famous Black and White stripes representing the iconic colours worn by Newcastle United. The match was a success with 27,284 spectators present as Newcastle beat Sale 22-17..
Falcons confirmed the Signing of United States International Greg Peterson in Mid-March with Darren Barry, Josh Basham, Gareth Owen and Toby Salmon following shortly after. They also announced a 5 year deal with Sportswear Brand Macron to provide Official Kits and Leisurewear as their official supplier.
Newcastle Falcons play at Kingston Park which holds 10,200. Kingston Park was the second smallest stadium in the Premiership Rugby with the club's average attendance currently sitting at approximately 10,000, a 42.5% increase from the 2016/17 season and a 96.8% increase from the 2013/14 season. The stadium has three modern stands; the open air North standing Terrace, the enclosed South Stand Terrace – where the loudest fans traditionally stand and sing, and the all-seated West Stand. However, the Falcons also retain the original Gosforth East stand complete with green and white seating (Gosforth colours). The pitch at Kingston Park recently went under renovation, replacing the former grass surface with a 3G Synthetic pitch with the aim of reducing the matches lost to the North East weather. In June 2015, the Falcons bought Kingston Park back from Northumbria University, which was a bold statement by the club ahead of the 2015–16 season.
On 16 September 2017 the Falcons played a home game away from Kingston Park and become the second English team to host a game in the United States when they faced Saracens at the Talen Energy Stadium in Philadelphia.
On 24 March 2018 Newcastle Falcons hosted "The Big One", Their Premiership Fixture against Northampton Saints. It was originally booked to be played at Kingston Park but after an agreement came together with Newcastle United F.C., It was moved to St James' Park, Newcastle United's Home Ground. The goal was to promote Rugby Union in North East England while also being the Falcons' Biggest Home Crowd to date. The bar was set at 20,000 Attendees which would beat their previous record of 11,595 set in 1999 when a match was held at Gateshead International Stadium. For the match, Falcons wore a unique black and white striped shirt similar to that worn by Newcastle United. It was announced after "The Big One" game that 30,174 people attended the game as Falcons beat Northampton Saints 25-22. It was the first Premiership Rugby match to be played at St James' Park, and the success of the initiative led to Newcastle Falcons doing the same in the 2018-2019 season.
During the years known as Gosforth the club played in green and white hoops, colours that are still retained by the existing Gosforth Rugby Club.
Historic league positionsEdit
- Premiership (1): 1997–98
- Division Two / Championship (2): 1992–93, 2012–13
- National Cup (4): 1976, 1977, 2001, 2004
- Melrose Sevens (1): 2006
- Langholm Sevens (4): 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
- Hawick Sevens (3): 2005, 2006, 2007
- Peebles Sevens (1): 2004
- Selkirk Sevens (1): 2004
- Middlesex 7s (1): 2007
- Premiership Rugby Sevens Series (1): 2011
- Heineken Champions Cup: Quarter-Final (2005)
- European Challenge Cup: Semi-Final (1998, 2001, 2006, 2008, 2017)
- British and Irish Cup: Final (2012–13)
- Northumberland Senior Cup (30): 1928, 1956, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994
- Record Win: 156–5 vs Rugby Lions (Courage League 1996)
- Record Loss: 10–83 vs Leicester Tigers (Zurich Premiership 2004–05)
- Best League Position: 1st (Premiership, 1997–98)
- Worst League Position: 12th (Division Two, 1989–90)
- Internationally capped players in bold.
Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.
The Newcastle Falcons academy squad is:
Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.
Current coaching staffEdit
Notable former playersEdit
This list of "famous" or "notable" persons has no clear inclusion or exclusion criteria. Please help to define clear inclusion criteria and edit the list to contain only subjects that fit those criteria. (October 2018) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
- Belisario Agulla
- Galo Alvarez Quinones
- Juan Pablo Socino
- Matthew Burke
- Owen Finegan
- Jake Ilnicki
- D.T.H. van der Merwe
- Evan Olmstead
- Rob Andrew
- Garath Archer
- Dominic Barrow
- John Bentley
- Mouritz Botha
- Liam Botham
- Kieran Brookes
- Lee Dickson
- Phil Dowson
- Jon Golding
- Eni Gesinde
- Andy Goode
- Rupert Harden
- James Hoyle
- Tom May
- Jamie Noon
- Geoff Parling
- Andy Perry
- Dean Ryan
- Michael Stephenson
- Tim Stimpson
- Mathew Tait
- Tony Underwood
- Paul Van-Zandvliet
- Rob Vickers
- Hugh Vyvyan
- Dave Walder
- Colin White
- Jonny Wilkinson
- Mark Wilkinson
- Dave Wilson
- Malcolm Young
- Maxime Mermoz
- Franck Montanella
- Mike McCarthy
- Ross Nesdale
- Nick Popplewell
- Peter Stringer
- Kensuke Hatakeyama
- Joshua Chisanga
- Carl Hayman
- Jimmy Gopperth
- Mark Mayerhofler
- Craig Newby
- Loki Crichton
- Pat Lam
- Filipo Levi
- Semo Sititi
- Taiasina Tuifu'a
- Va'aiga Tuigamala
- Alesana Tuilagi
- Gary Armstrong
- Ross Beattie
- Mike Blair
- Tim Swinson
- Richard Breakey
- Steve Brotherstone
- Jon Dunbar
- George Graham
- Stuart Grimes
- Craig Hamilton
- Ally Hogg
- Rory Lawson
- Scott Lawson
- John Leslie
- Duncan Madsen
- Richard Metcalfe
- Andrew Mower
- Euan Murray
- Jim Pollock
- Arthur Smith
- Alan Tait
- Tim Visser
- Peter Walton
- Doddie Weir
- Gcobani Bobo
- Marius Hurter
- Josh Afu
- Opeti Fonua
- Uili Koloʻofai
- Nili Latu
- Epi Taione
- Todd Clever
- Eric Fry
- Paul Mullen
- Colin Charvis
- "History of the Club". Newcastle-Falcons.co.uk.
- Kingston Park Stadium (Newcastle Falcons), RugbyStadiums.co.uk
- "Falcons committed to bouncing back stronger". www.newcastlefalcons.co.uk. Retrieved 5 May 2019.
- "History Of Gosforth RFC, p.2". GosforthRFC.com.
- "Stade Français 48–8 Newcastle Falcons". www.newcastle-falcons.co.uk. 3 April 2005. Archived from the original on 5 September 2012.
- Falcons fall to narrow defeat in Japan, Guinness Premiership, 23 August 2005.
- Falcons pay tribute to Andrew, Newcastle-Falcons.co.uk, 18 August 2006
- Boss Fletcher Leaves Newcastle, BBC Sport, 11 March 2008
- Steve Bates given Newcastle Falcons job, Telegraph, 20 May 2008
- "Thompson Ends Takeover Talk". www.newcastle-falcons.co.uk. 25 November 2008. Archived from the original on 19 September 2012.
- "Falcons Club Statement". www.newcastle-falcons.co.uk. 4 May 2010. Archived from the original on 14 June 2011. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
- "Kurdi buys stake Newcastle Falcons". www.guardian.co.uk. 22 September 2010. Retrieved 22 September 2010.
- "Bristol 20 Falcons 37". Newcastle Falcons. 2 September 2012. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
- "NEWCASTLE RUGBY LIMITED". www.thegazette.co.uk. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
- "Falcons 22 Sale Sharks 17". www.newcastlefalcons.co.uk. Retrieved 5 May 2019.
- "Team Zone". Newcastle Falcons. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
- "Team Zone". Newcastle Falcons. Retrieved 29 August 2017.