Mark Laycock believes this year’s Premiership Rugby 7s will stand the Falcons’ representatives in good stead after they made the semi-finals of the Cup competition last weekend.
With a squad that featured nine members of the club’s senior academy plotting their way into the last four, it is an experience that should enable those players to seize any opportunities that come their way during the 2018/19 Gallagher Premiership Rugby season.
Speaking shortly after the semi-final against Wasps, Laycock said: “If you look around the room now, I think what it has given them is confidence; confidence that they are good enough to compete on a big stage.
“I think they’ve all acquitted themselves really well in their own ways and for them, it’s a platform to hopefully kick on and if they do get a chance in a senior game, they are better prepared for it. Chatting to these boys, the fact they’ve had a bit of a physical contact blow-out helps them feel a little bit more prepared for when that comes again later in pre-season.
“I think everyone has enjoyed the journey that we’ve been on, everyone is obviously gutted and disappointed that we didn’t quite make it through to the final, but it is a tough competition, I think that standard is probably the highest it’s been across the board.”
Having fought back from 19-7 down to lead 19-24 against Wasps in the semi-final, it was two late tries from mistakes in their own attack that ended the Falcons hopes of a first title since 2011, though Laycock maintains that will ultimately help the players in the season ahead.
“When we look back at the game it’s the fine margins that win you or lose you them at this level one less step forward in the defensive line and we’re connected, one more step back in depth and we get the pass away and that’s a learning the boys will have to take into the season.
“The effort though was phenomenal across the board and the work rate to stay together and show some physicality in tough games was outstanding and I am really proud of the boys for the effort they put in.”
With the 7s over for another year and the beginning of August sees preparations for the upcoming campaign move up a gear ahead of the first pre-season friendly against Nottingham, the first team skills coach says that the 7s team’s performance will play a role in keeping enthusiasm within the group high.
He said: “It [the 7s] brings a bit of buzz and excitement, to see some of the boys pull the jersey on; we’re one game in now and everyone is now getting excited about the Nottingham game.
“We have some international boys back from their break which adds a bit spice to training and competitiveness for positions so hopefully training will ramp up a little bit now as we move towards the fixtures and that puts us into a good place.”