Falcons Community Rugby Excellence Programme: season highlights

Tuesday 25 April 2023 Written by: Adam

This year the programme has only gone from strength to strength in all aspects and has been the most successful, both on and off the pitch. The programme has had the most competitive fixture list there has ever been, and with strong competition comes great team performances and victories.

The boys’ season kicked off with six players selected to represent the programme and play for Gosforth Academy 2nd XV at Sedbergh’s prestigious pre-season warm-up fixture. This was a great achievement and equally showed us how well-regarded the programme has become in the North’s rugby community. This was followed up with a well-deserved win – the first time our students had been victorious against Myerscough, so was a great start to the season.

As the Association of Colleges (AoC) Premiership league got underway, the team had some strong performances against Gateshead College, Bede Sixth Form and a double over Hartlepool Sixth Form. The most notable performance was an away victory against Bishop Burton. These results highlight how far the players have come and the potential the programme has in the longer term.

The programme’s development team played in the AoC North East league and had some great performances against local colleges with victories over Park View Academy, East Durham College and Gateshead College. It was amazing to see the development team progress into the quarter-finals of the ECRFU National Cup.

This was the first season the programme has had a full girls’ team -the largest female college rugby programme in the North. The girls have had some terrific victories over local teams such as Queen Elizabeth Hexam, Hartlepool Sixth Form and Bede Academy. To show the strength of the programme, we had nine Tynemet players selected out of the 15 for nationals as part of the North-East Barbarians team.

This season we have put a massive focus on players’ development off the pitch and becoming more mature young adults, so they leave the programme better than when they first joined. The ethos of the programme is about helping develop people before players, and we have seen massive rewards from this approach.

This has been seen by staff in all players due to their acts of selflessness, commitment to personal and team goals, ability to hold not only themselves but others accountable to the culture, their empathy towards others and finally increase self-confidence and self-esteem.

This season we have had the most positive rugby progression with the highest number of representative players the programme has ever had. This season we have our first player to be a part of the Newcastle Falcons’ academy and we have had eight players selected for the North East and Cumbria Centre of Excellence, two of which were on the England pathway this season and attended numerous England North Camps. Additionally, we have had 11 boys and nine girls playing Under-18 county rugby, which is a huge achievement.

Finally, we have two girls who have been selected for Leeds Rhinos Women’s Under-18s squad. Two girls made their Women’s Super League debuts, and are now regulars for Huddersfield Giants.

It has been a phenomenal year for all players involved in the course which has allowed the reputation of the programme to grow significantly, and is gaining huge amounts of traction and respect from all involved in the rugby world.

For more information about the Rugby Excellence Programme, please email niall.johal@newcastle-falcons.co.uk .