Under-18s season resumes on Saturday
They meet at Loughborough University for a 2pm kick-off, with academy head coach PJ Butler explaining the protracted nature of the season.
“The season is split, with two rounds in August and the rest after Christmas,” said Butler, whose side opened up with a 32-21 loss against Wasps.
“We actually had a bye in one of the first two games so we’ve only played once in the league, and we’ll play in six of the next seven weeks from now.
“It’s a bit of a challenge because once it gets to September then the main focus for the players is their school and club rugby, and we have limited contact time with them.
“We had a really good two-day camp during October half-term at Durham School to set the scene for what we wanted to get out of this block of six fixtures, and we’ve been training in a lot of small groups or working on individual skills.
“Since the start of December we’ve been back to getting the guys in on a Monday and Thursday night, although we’ve had some guys away in Thailand for the international schools tournament. We’ve got a big geographical area so we always face challenges getting the guys together, but we’re confident we’ve made the best of what time we have had available.”
Asked what the season has in store for a Falcons squad who have been well represented at international level, he added: “We had five players went on tour with England Under-18s over the summer, and they’re all still part of our group this season.
“There are a couple more who have been involved in some England training camps, and it’s definitely a strong group.
“We’re pretty hopeful and there’s some exciting talent across the board, so these games are a chance for the guys to show us what they can do at this level.”
Encouraging supporters to come down for a look at some of the stars of the future, Butler said: “Both of our home games will be played at Kingston Park, and we’d encourage people to come along and have a watch.
“One of them will be on the same day of the Falcons v Southern Knights game on Saturday February 11, which will be great for supporters to stay on and watch, and it’s great for the boys to play here at the stadium.
“The feedback last year was that the fans who came down really enjoyed watching the Under-18s games, because it’s a good standard and the lads play a nice style of rugby.
“They’ll appreciate the atmosphere that our fans can create if they come down to watch, and it’s a great opportunity for people to see the level of talent we have on our patch.
**Newcastle Falcons Under-18s remaining fixtures**
**Sat Jan 7:** v Leicester Tigers (away, Loughborough University).
**Sat Jan 14:** v Sale Sharks (home, Kingston Park).
**Sat Jan 21:** v Midlands West Rugby Academy (away, Sixways).
**Sat Feb 4:** v Yorkshire Rugby Academy (away, Yarbury RFC).
**Sat Feb 11:** v Northampton Saints (home, Kingston Park).
**Sun Feb 19:** Finals day (StoneX Stadium, London).