Bedford hooker Robbie Smith signs up

Wednesday 23 September 2020

Bedford Blues hooker Robbie Smith has joined Newcastle Falcons, the former Scotland Under-20s captain signing a two-year deal with the Gallagher Premiership new boys.

The 21-year-old has already begun training with his new club, the 5ft 9 and 110kg forward having impressed for Bedford against the Falcons last season.

“Robbie is a really exciting player with a lot of promise, and he has fitted in really well so far during his time with us,” said Newcastle Falcons director of rugby, Dean Richards.

“We have a very strong hooking contingent with fierce competition for places, and that’s exactly where you want to be in a league as tough as the Gallagher Premiership.”

Smith, who began playing with local club Newton Stewart, said: “I’m buzzing about the move, having played against Newcastle twice last season.

“I started against them down at Bedford in November when we gave them a good game, which possibly helped put me on the Falcons’ radar a bit. The weather wasn’t great and it was a really physical match, but we made it a close contest.

“In the second game in March just before lockdown, the Falcons showed they were a class apart. You’d expect that, because they were basically still a Premiership team just playing a league down for a season, and I always had it in my mind that I wanted to join a team like that.”

Explaining his rugby journey, the physical front-row man said: “I started off at Newton Stewart Rugby Club, which is my home club, and then through the age-grade stuff I played for Scotland Under-16s, 18s and had two years at Under-20s.

“I moved over to Ayr Rugby Club at 17 just to get some higher-level game time as I was coming through, and from there I was lucky enough to gain a full-time contract in the academy with Glasgow Warriors.

“I had three years at Glasgow, during which time I did my two seasons with Scotland Under-20s, and from there I had a conversation with the head coach Dave Rennie, who thought it would be a good idea to get some more game time in the English Championship.

“It’s well known that the Championship is a great league for developing front-row players, and so I went down to Bedford last season.

“I enjoyed it at Bedford, and it was really good for my development. It’s quite a long way from home but the boys were class, and I really think I came on a lot as a player during my time there.”

Now keen to kick on with the Falcons, Smith added: “Having had three seasons at Glasgow I knew I wanted to be back in that top-level environment, which is certainly no criticism of Bedford, because I really enjoyed my time there.

“I just think that with Newcastle having been promoted and the fact they’re really building as a squad, it’s a good time for me to join and to push my case.

“I know it won’t be easy, but my goal is to get a few first team appearances here and there this season. I’ve just got to work as hard as I can, learn all the time from the great hookers we have here, and I’ll be a better player if I do all those things.

“I played Under-20s against Jamie Blamire for Scotland, and then you’ve got guys like George McGuigan and Charlie Maddison also here. Kyle Cooper is still with us but he’s going to be moving over to loose-head prop, as I understand it, but regardless of that he’s still someone I can learn from after the amount of top-level games he’s played at hooker over the years.”

Smith becomes Newcastle Falcons’ eighth signing of the summer, alongside Matias Orlando (Jaguares), Luther Burrell (Warrington Wolves RL), Louis Schreuder (Sharks), Marco Fuser (Benetton), Tom Penny (Harlequins), Pete Lucock (Doncaster Knights) and Iwan Stephens (Leeds Rhinos RL).

Newcastle’s Gallagher Premiership campaign will start on the weekend of November 20-22, the club also confirming two pre-season friendlies against Ealing Trailfinders – away on Saturday November 7 and home on Friday November 13.

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