Team news: Falcons U18s travel to Midlands Central

Friday 01 September 2023 Written by: Alan

The game at Warwick School is a 3.30pm kick-off, with the Falcons fresh from a pair of friendlies against Harlequins at Loughborough University a week ago.

The Under-17s were 38-29 victors while the Under-18s fell 22-17, academy coach PJ Butler saying: “The two games against Quins were really positive.

“We’d built our pre-season focus around the first league game which is coming up this weekend, so the Quins matches were really helpful in helping us prepare for that.

“The other clubs have all played a league game already but us and Quins both had a bye in the first round, so we arranged a pair of friendlies.

“Both the 17s and 18s games were really well contested, they were both close on the scoreboard and the issues that we had were all expected with not having played together yet this season.”

Switching the focus to this weekend’s league opener, Butler added: “Everything is pretty much where we want it to be at the moment.

“We’ve got quite a few debutants this season at under-18s level, which is just the nature of how these things work.

“It’s an age group where you use 17s and 18s, and we’ve got some really exciting lads. That includes guys who are new to us, and some who will want to step up from where they were last season within our system.

“We use the Under-18s league as a tool to develop our better players towards having the opportunity to play first team rugby for Newcastle Falcons. If we’re using 23 players on a Saturday we’re obviously not in a position to give out 23 professional contracts, but we also want it to be a pinnacle for age-group rugby in the region.

“We as an academy are very much aligned to the ‘True North’ mentality of the Falcons as a club, and when you’re a player from this region it should mean a lot to get picked and to play for Newcastle Falcons Under-18s.

“It’s something the boys should all be proud of, and then of course the hope is that a number of them will then push on towards the professional game as a result of being in this environment. Those who don’t, we obviously hope they stay within the sport and play to the best possible level, and we will help them to do that.”

On Saturday’s assignment at Warwick School, he said: “Midlands Central is basically the former Wasps academy, which is now run by the RFU.

“They beat Yorkshire Academy in their league opener last weekend, and whilst we have had a bit of the look through the video of that game our focus is very much on ourselves. Of course we want the guys to have understanding of what the opposition are about, but it’s all about what we’re trying to achieve rather than worrying too much about them.

“After this weekend we will review the game but our under-18s go back into their school programmes, and we’ll pick up the league season again early in the new year.

“Our main block of fixtures comes through January and February, and it’s always great for the lads to play at Kingston Park and for supporters to be able to come and see what we’re all about.”

**Newcastle Falcons U18s v Midlands Central Academy**

15 Ben O’Halloran – Gosforth Academy

14 Lucas Jessop – Percy Park RFC & RGS Newcastle

13 Osea Navuso – Darlington RFC & Richmond Sixth Form

12 Josh Farley – Novocastrians & Gosforth Academy

11 Sam Wardle – RGS Newcastle

10 Junior Newton – Darlington Mowden Park & Sedbergh School

9 Reuben Dyer – Kendal RUFC & Gosforth Academy

1 Harvey Headlam – Stockton Rugby Club & Hartlepool Sixth Form College

2 Ryan Shaw – Morpeth RFC & Gosforth Academy

3 Sam Graham – Durham City & Durham School

4 Harry Wildridge – Billingham & Yarm School

5 Patrick Hogg – Blaydon & Durham School

6 Charlie Brewer – Percy Park & Dame Allans

7 Charlie Turnbull – Percy Park & Sedbergh School

8 Jacob Butterill – Sedbergh School


16 Ollie Forster – Novocastrians & Dame Allans

17 Aidan Stewart – Sedbergh School

18 Chris Kelly – Novocastrians & RGS Newcastle

19 Lauchlan Hill – Billingham & Gosforth Academy

20 Dan Toole – Durham City & Durham School

21 Joe Davis – Barnard Castle School

22 Rory Linkleter – Gosforth Academy

23 James Bent – Penrith RUFC & Gosforth Academy


**Sat Sep 2:** Midlands Central v Falcons U18 (Warwick School, 3.30pm)

**Jan 5-7:** Falcons U18 v Leicester Tigers U18 (Kingston Park)

**Jan 12-14:** Sale Sharks U18 v Falcons U18 (venue TBC)

**Jan 19-21:** Falcons U18 v Midlands West (Kingston Park)

**Feb 2-4:** Falcons U18 v Yorkshire (Kingston Park)

**Feb 9-11:** Northampton Saints U18 v Falcons U18 (venue TBC)

**Feb 17-18:** Finals day (venue TBC)