Richards Reports On Pre-Season Progress
With almost two months of pre-season training now under his squad’s belts, Director of Rugby Dean Richards has given his thoughts on the Falcons preparations for 2015/16.
And although delays due to Rugby World Cup 2015 mean there is still just under two months to go until the start of the Aviva Premiership, on-field action for the Falcons begins this weekend with the Singha Premiership Rugby Sevens.
So how does Richards feel pre-season is going for his squad?
“It’s going fine at the moment. it was a little bit fragmented initially with some of the guys being away on international duty, a few guys with visa issues and some late signings such as Mo Botha, but on the whole it’s going really well.
“The issue we have is that it’s such a long pre-season, it’s about keeping the guys interested and motivated right through to that first league game which is on the 16th October. But before that obviously we’ve got the Georgia game coming up.”
This summer has included a number of additional sessions such as coasteering on the Northumbrian coast and specialist survival skills training. Something which Richards says the coaches have been conscious of for some time.
“A longer pre-season has given us the opportunity to add that bit of variety and do things we’ve wanted to do for a number of years now.
“Coasteering and some survival stuff down at Catterick are the sort of things we’ve been able to throw in there and I think the boys have enjoyed it. A change is as good as a rest sometimes and it’s doing things which ordinarily they wouldn’t do, but I think that variety has added to keeping them interested.”
2015 has seen the Falcons bring no fewer than twelve additions into their squad, with a number of additional players also moving into the first team set up after graduating from the Senior Academy.
“Year on year we’re getting bigger and stronger and we’ll be a competitive side this year. I’m really pleased with the players that we’ve brought in this year, there are some key individuals who will provide a good complement to the squad we already have.”
With regards to those already known to Falcons fans, this summer has been a successful one, with a number of players turning out for international duty.
“There are a few boys are doing alright for themselves where international rugby is concerned. I’m especially pleased for Sinoti Sinoti having collected a few more caps for Samoa and for Juan Pablo Socino getting his first cap for Argentina as well.
“The boys are getting out there and they’re getting the taste for international rugby, and for me that’s key to everything. You want your players to get recognition right at the highest level and I’m pleased with the way that’s happening.”
With just under two weeks to go until 15-a-side rugby returns to Kingston Park Stadium, the ground will first play host to the shortened form of the game, when Pool D of the Singha Premiership Rugby Sevens arrives this Saturday.
With an unbeaten record in the group stages of that competition to defend, the Falcons will once again be taking the tournament seriously, putting out what Richards believes to be a strong side.
“We’ve got a number of younger guys that we’re throwing in and, the same as last year, they’ll be supplemented by guys that we want to have a look at from within the Borders area so we’ve got a bit of a mixed team. The likes of Callum Chick, Craggsy and some of the other Senior Academy boys have been thrown in there too and I think it will be a really exciting sevens team.”
Also likely to feature in the squad is at least one of the unsigned players that have been undergoing trials with the Falcons over the summer. Richards explains:
“The trialists that we’ve had in for pre-season have been going well; Joe (Nayacavou) and Dave (Fairbrother) are the two Forces boys and they have gone extremely well.
“Their skills were really brought to the fore down in Catterick, but on the field they’ve acquitted themselves extremely well too so we’ve enjoyed having them around.”
Pool D of the Singha Premiership Rugby Sevens kicks off at 4pm this Saturday, 22nd August, and will see the Falcons take on Leicester Tigers, Sale Sharks and Worcester Warriors. Tickets for the event cost just £10 for adults and £5 for juniors.
Meanwhile tickets for the Falcons game against Georgia are also available to buy starting from £15 for adults and £5 for juniors.
Tickets for both events can be purchased now [online], in person from the Kingston Park Stadium Box Office or by calling the Falcons’ 24 hour Ticket Hotline on 0871 226 6060.