October half-term week sees the long-awaited return to training for the Falcons academy under-17 and under-18 players.
There has been no activity since Covid-19 struck in March with players training at home on their own through lockdown, and more recently with their clubs and schools.
Having finally been able to welcome back his players, Falcons academy manager Mark Laycock said: “The club has all the relevant safety measures in place to enable activity to resume, and we are looking forward to welcoming the players back, albeit under strange circumstances.
“The players were all setting each other fitness and skill challenges to complete over the summer, which was great to see, and many of them have made big gains physically as a result.
“Our backroom staff were all getting withdrawal symptoms from the lack of rugby so it’s great to have them back doing what they love, helping these young men realise their dreams of playing at the highest level they can.”
Laycock added: “No games have been played for over seven months and we are unsure when we will all get the green light to move to the next stage of the RFU return to play protocol, or when games might start again, but for now it is just great to be able to be working with the players again.
“We have a really exciting group of players coming through the Academy right now.
“Three of last year’s under-18 squad, Phil Brantingham (RGS Newcastle / Morpeth RFC), James Blackett (RGS Newcastle / Morpeth RFC) and Matthew Ward (Gosforth Academy / Durham City RFC) are all settling into pre-season with our senior squad really well alongside rugby league convert Iwan Stephens (Leeds Rhinos), and several of our under-17 and 18 players have just been invited to the next England under-18 training camps.
There were a few other players who were very close to a call-up too, which shows the quality that is currently being developed in the region at our clubs and schools"
Players invited to Northern Academies England camp on October 27 in York:
Mark Dormer (prop, RGS Newcastle)
Ollie Fletcher (hooker, Newcastle School for Boys / Tynedale RFC)
James Naylor (scrum half, Sedbergh School / Driffield RFC)
Ewan Greenlaw (centre, Durham School / Horden RFC)
Ben Douglas (scrum half, Gosforth Academy) - U17
Ollie Spencer (centre, Sedbergh School) - U17
Players invited to two-day England camp on October 28-29 at Bisham Abbey:
Guy Pepper (back row, Barnard Castle School)
Louie Johnson (fly half, Sedbergh School / Penrith RFC)