Senior academy squad named for 2022-23

Monday 16 May 2022 Written by: Adam

The 17-man squad sees five players signing new deals, six remaining under contract and a further six joining from the junior academy, while a number of players will be invited to trials during pre-season training.

England Under-20s prop Mark Dormer has signed a two-year extension, while back-rower Marcus Tiffen signs a one-year deal after scoring on his first-team debut at Northampton in March.

Scotland Under-20s No.8 Matt Deehan, who also made his senior debut in that game, is another to have signed a one-year extension, as has scrum-half James Blackett and centre Ewan Greenlaw.

Already under contract and remaining part of next season’s senior academy squad are England Under-20s hooker Ollie Fletcher, prop Phil Brantingham, flanker Guy Pepper, three-quarter Chidera Obonna winger Zach Kerr and England Under-20s fly-half Louie Johnson.

Joining the senior academy are six players who have either played for or trained with England Under-18s within the last year.

Scrum-half Ben Douglas, who made his Falcons first-team debut at Northampton in March, has signed a three-year deal, as has lock-forward Luke Coulston. Winger Nathan Greenwood has signed for two years, with one-year deals for prop Mike Rewcastle, hooker Charlie Smith and centre Jeremy Civil.

Conrad Cade, Freddie Lockwood and Iwan Stephens are all promoted from the senior academy into the first team squad, while Oscar Caudle, Will Haydon-Wood, Morgan Passman and Matty Ward all depart with the thanks and best wishes of the club.

Newcastle Falcons’ commitment to developing their own talent has been a proud theme for many years, with this season’s first-team match-day 23 seeing an average of 14.3 homegrown and local players.

With strong representation at international age-group level, the current season has also seen first-team starting debuts given to Conrad Cade, Freddie Lockwood, Marcus Tiffen, Matt Deehan, Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti, James Blackett, Will Haydon-Wood and Iwan Stephens, plus first-team debuts from the bench for Phil Brantingham, Ollie Fletcher, Louie Johnson and Ben Douglas.

Academy head coach James Ponton said: “We do well compared to the other Premiership clubs when it comes to having homegrown players in our squad, and those trends are rising even further.

“A lot of it I believe is around our talent identification in the younger age groups, and we’ve got a good record at spotting and developing players. We’re blessed with a lot of good clubs and schools on our patch who all play an important part, and when the guys do come to us it’s about giving them that quality environment and coaching where they can make the most of their ability.

“Having a number of lads pushing through the senior academy into the first team squad is obviously really pleasing, and we’ve got some real talent coming into the group this summer from our Under-18s.

“Covid obviously threw a huge spanner into the works regarding what we have been able to do with the lads over the last couple of years, but credit to the academy staff, because we’ve done more than most clubs in terms of the time we’ve had with the players and what we’ve been able to do with them.

“I feel like we’re now seeing the dividends of that with the crop we have coming into the senior academy, with the likes of Micky Rewcastle coming in as a skilful loose-head prop who has played for England Under-18s. At hooker Charlie Smith is an aggressive and abrasive player, then at lock Luke Coulston is from Cumbrian farming stock. He has good height and is improving his understanding of the line-out, so he will be a really good asset moving forwards.

“Ben Douglas at scrum-half has already played for the Falcons first-team and scored the winning try for England against Scotland in their recent unbeaten Six Nations Festival campaign, and we have high hopes for him.

“Nathan Greenwood on the wing is a really exciting prospect who has a low training age. Only a year and a half ago he was playing scrum-half, and he got himself onto our ACE programme at Gosforth Academy kind of under the radar. He’s really made the most of that opportunity and developed hugely, playing for England Under-18s, and he will also hopefully do some work with England 7s over the summer.

“He’s a real crowd-pleaser with a lot of X-factor, and then Jeremy Civil is a hard worker with good core skills who hits some great running lines. They’ve all got plenty of ability, and I’m sure they’ll go well in the senior academy environment.”

Ponton added: “Being in the senior academy squad really accelerates the players’ development, because we’re in charge of their playing and training programme.

“Some of the lads will train full-time, and some are on scholarships where they train when they are able to, combining rugby with their university studies. A lot of guys might play the majority of their club rugby out on dual-registration or at uni, but during the week when they can they come in and train with our first team, and that’s been shown to be a huge benefit over the years.”


James Blackett, Phil Brantingham, Jeremy Civil, Luke Coulston, Matt Deehan, Mark Dormer, Ben Douglas, Ollie Fletcher, Ewan Greenlaw, Nathan Greenwood, Louie Johnson, Zach Kerr, Chidera Obonna, Guy Pepper, Mike Rewcastle, Charlie Smith, Marcus Tiffen.


**Jeremy Civil:** *Centre. 02/05/2004. Height: 183cm (6ft). Weight: 83kg (13 stone 1).*

Jeremy has played for Gosforth Academy, Wensleydale RFC and Cumbria, as well as being part of the wider England Under-18s squad. He joins on a one-year deal.

**Luke Coulston:** *Lock. 17/07/2004. Height: 200cm (6 foot 6). Weight: 95kg (15 stone).*

Luke has been capped by England Under-18s this season, and has played for Gosforth Academy, Penrith RFC and Cumbria. He joins on a three-year deal.

**Ben Douglas:** *Scrum-half. 16/01/2004. Height: 177cm (5 foot 8). Weight: 74kg (11 stone 7).*

Ben made his first-team debut at Northampton in March, having been capped by England Under-18s. The son of former Newcastle Gosforth scrum-half Steve Douglas, Ben has played for Gosforth Academy, Northern FC and Northumberland county. He joins on a three-year deal.

**Nathan Greenwood:** *Wing. 20/11/2003. Height: 175cm (5 foot 8). Weight: 77kg (12 stone 1).*

Nathan was capped by England Under-18s this season, and is training with England 7s. He has played for Gosforth Academy, Whitley Bay Rockliff and Northumberland, and joins on a two-year deal.

**Mike Rewcastle:** *Prop. 17/05/2004. Height: 184cm (6 foot). Weight 113kg (17 stone 11).*

Mike has been capped by England Under-18s this season, having played his junior rugby with Gosforth Academy, Blaydon RFC and Durham county. He joins on a one-year contract.

**Charlie Smith:** *Hooker. 19/01/2004. Height: 183cm (6 foot). Weight: 104kg (16 stone 5).*

Capped by England Under-18s, Charlie has played for Dame Allans, Novos RFC and Northumberland county. He joins on a one-year deal.