Scott Baldwin joins Newcastle Falcons as defence coach

Tuesday 20 June 2023 Written by: Adam

The 34-year-old has retired from playing to focus on his new role having starred for Ospreys, Harlequins, Worcester and Wales in a professional playing career spanning more than a decade.

The most recent of Baldwin’s 37 Wales caps came during this year’s Six Nations, with the Bridgend-born front-rower packing down against Ireland, Scotland and Italy.

His club career saw him playing more than 100 times in the United Rugby Championship and 43 in Europe as well as starting for Harlequins in their victorious 2021 Gallagher Premiership final.

Spending last season playing for Ospreys and coaching at home club Bridgend, he completes a refreshed Newcastle Falcons management team which sees new head coach Alex Codling working with incumbents Micky Ward and Mark Laycock.

Codling said: “I first met Scott when I was forwards coach at Harlequins, I enjoyed working him and you could see straight away he was a top professional.

“He’s got a huge amount of experience from playing in the Premiership, URC and internationally over a number of years, and he’ll bring a wealth of knowledge to the role.

“During my own time working with Scott you could see he was keen to make the transition from playing to coaching, and he was one of those guys who always seemed to think like a coach. I’m looking forward to integrating him into a fantastic group here and seeing the impact he will make for the Falcons.”

Delighted to be taking on his new challenge in the North East, Baldwin said: “Coaching is something I’ve been really interested in since 2017 when I started doing it at semi-pro level with Bridgend, and I just fell in love with that side of the game.

“That’s grown more and more as time has gone on, and it’s a fascinating area in terms of the different styles of play and not just being one mould for everyone. It’s broadened my horizons while I’ve been combining it with playing, and I can’t wait to get started with Newcastle.

“It’s been tough in a way because I know I can still play at this level, but this felt like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to start my professional coaching career.

“I’ve spent a lot of time in Newcastle because my sister lived there for 20 years so we used to go up every six weeks to see her, my nieces and my brother in law. They’re full-on Geordies, and I already feel like I’ve got a good connection with the area through the time I’ve spent up there with them. It’s very similar to Wales in many respects with hard-working people and good values, and professionally for me it’s a really exciting opportunity which was too good to turn down.

“It’s a talented squad with a relatively new coaching group, and I worked with Alex Codling during our time together at Harlequins. We got on really well, and we’re both very much into the game in terms of talking about rugby a lot and looking into everything around it.”

Excited by the chance to return to the Gallagher Premiership after winning the league as a Harlequins player, Baldwin said: “You have to go into it with your eyes wide open because the Premiership is a relentless league with loads of different playing styles where every squad is incredibly talented, and you have to stay on it every week.

“All the clubs are in the same country which is a change from the URC from a travel perspective, although we’ll obviously have some long bus trips with being situated up in the North East.

“In the URC the Welsh derbies feel a bit special because they’re not that common, but in the Premiership it’s like that every week where you’re up against boys you know, and some of the best players in the world. The Falcons have obviously got a really strong Argentinean contingent as well as all their local talent, and it’ll be really good tapping into all the various groups with everything they bring to the table.”

Relishing the opportunity to further tighten the Falcons’ rearguard, Baldwin said: “I love defence, and I’ve been very fortunate to work with some of the best defence coaches in the world in Shaun Edwards, Steve Tandy and Paul Gustard.

“From playing against Newcastle on numerous occasions the thing that always sticks in my mind is the fact they’re always a hard team to beat. As a defence coach when you know a team is going to work incredibly hard for each other – that’s a great starting point, and there’s a lot you can build around that.

“There’ll obviously be some fine tuning around the system and the specifics of how things work, but the biggest thing is just building connections with players. That’s what I’ve always enjoyed about coaching, and when you have that relationship with a coach you’ll go that extra mile for them.”

Newcastle Falcons have signed 11 senior players for the coming campaign in Murray McCallum (Edinburgh), Eduardo Bello (Saracens), Cameron Hutchison (Edinburgh), Hugh O’Sullivan (London Irish), Tim Cardall (Melbourne Rebels), Louis Brown (Coventry), Ollie Leatherbarrow (Exeter Chiefs), Kiran McDonald (Munster), Bryan Byrne (Bristol Bears), Josh Bainbridge (Coventry) and John Kelly (Doncaster Knights).

A five-strong senior academy influx sees Newcastle University’s Adam Scott joined by England Under-18s quartet Finn Baker, Isaac Keller, Jacob Oliver and Ben Redshaw.

Season tickets for 2023-24 are on sale now by [**clicking here**][1].