Newcastle Falcons players trained at Sunderland AFC’s Academy of Light on Tuesday as preparations continued for Sunday’s Premiership Rugby Cup trip to Harlequins.
Academy manager and first team skills coach Mark Laycock explained that the change of venue was aimed at freshening things up ahead of the trip to the Twickenham Stoop, with Sunderland’s academy football coaches watching the session and sitting in on the Falcons’ video debrief from last weekend’s 22-22 draw with Exeter Chiefs.
“The idea is mainly just to have a change of scenery and expose the lads to something a bit different,” said Laycock, who will again take charge of the Falcons alongside academy head coach James Ponton.
“The boys all love football – they’re not that great at it, as we’ve seen this morning – but it’s fantastic to have the opportunity to come somewhere new.
“One of our former players Greg Irvin is the mental skills coach at Sunderland’s academy, so he has been the initial link, and they kindly offered us the use of their facilities.
“We’re happy to reciprocate that if Sunderland wish to do anything with us in the future, and their academy coaches also sat in on our video review meeting.
“It’s good to have links with other professional sports, even if it’s just to have a bit of a glimpse at how they do things, and while the sports are obviously very different there will definitely be some areas where we can learn from one another.”
Explaining the make-up of the day, Laycock added: “This is typically our review day where we go back through the game from the previous weekend, it’s a moderately light training session whereby the guys are flushing out the cobwebs after Sunday’s match and we’re looking to fix a few things in terms of our game.
“As well as being a first team training session ahead of an important game on Sunday we’ve also involved a few of our junior academy players in the day and exposed them to a higher level. It’s a long-term focus, and this is how you develop.
“We’ll start to look ahead more to the Harlequins game from Wednesday onwards, and going over to Sunderland was really just aimed at keeping things fresh during what is a very attritional season.”