Urban Rugby squad programme draws to a close at Sixways.
Newcastle Falcons’ Urban Rugby Squad acquitted themselves well at Sixways Stadium, as the ground breaking programme held its national festival at the home of Worcester Warriors.
Run by Premiership Rugby and its clubs and helping 1,000 young people aged 14-16 from disadvantaged communities across England, the scheme helped 778 young people and delivered 136 personal development workshops on topics such as anger management and sexual health in its first year.
For 2016, Newcastle Falcons held their satellite clubs in the Hartlepool area and the uptake was huge. With 99 participants registering onto the programme this made selection for the final squad very difficult for our Durham community development officer, Phil Wallis.
The 15 players selected for the festival won two games out of three, in what was an event with a high standard of skill on display.
Falling to a last gasp try against a strong Wasps side who they pushed all the way in the first match of the day, the Falcons entry showed some fantastic and individual skill in game two, against 2015 festival winners Exeter Chiefs.
Tries from Captain Lewis Dixon (St Hilds School), Bobby Williams (Dyke House School) and a brace from Joe Picken (English Martyrs School) secured an impressive 4-1 win.
Finishing their afternoon against Premiership new boys Bristol, the young Falcons were made to work hard all game on their way to a thoroughly deserved their 3 - 2 victory.
Tries from Sophie Derbyshire (English Martyrs School), Sadie Leslie (Manor Community Academy) and Picken sealed the victory.
And while the side narrowly missed out on progression to the semi finals, Wallis maintained the players should be hugely proud of their efforts.
He said: “The players have all been fantastic. Their effort, enthusiasm and teamwork had been outstanding. The training hasn’t been easy especially some of the fitness sessions but I am so proud of how far they have all come as players and young men and women.
“Lots of the guys have transitioned to local clubs with a number of the girls going to West Hartlepool and Hartlepool Rovers and that for me is a huge marker of how successful the programme has been. The numbers that have attended the satellite centres have been a very pleasant surprise. I wasn’t sure how the programme would be received but I am delighted with how many participants registered.