Newcastle Falcons have today announced that four of their Senior Academy players will be playing at Rotherham Titans next season.
Centre Chris Harris, scrum-half Andy Davies, back-row Ben Morris and second-row Sean Robinson will all pull on the Titans jersey next term.
Rotherham, who finished fourth in the regular Green King IPA Championship, host Bristol Rugby in the second leg of their semi-final play-off tomorrow with the South Yorkshire outfit trailing 17-14.
"It’s great that we can build links with clubs like Rotherham to help develop our academy players,” said Falcons academy manager Mark Laycock.
“The RFU only allow us to dual register players with clubs competing at levels one, two and three meaning we are quite limited for options within the region so Rotherham are in essence our closest neighbours at Level two. We have good working relationships with the two clubs at Level three in our area in Tynedale RFC and Blaydon RFC and hopefully we can strengthen the links with Mowden Park RFC too who have recently been promoted to that league.
“Chris Harris, Andy Davies and Ben Morris have been outstanding for Tynedale and Blaydon over the past few seasons and likewise, Sean Robinson (second row) has been a standout player for Durham University and England Students this year. For their long-term development they need to be exposed to the next level of rugby which is what they will get at Rotherham.
“Having known Titans director of rugby Lee Blackett for quite some time we know that the lads will be kept very grounded and will be made to work hard to earn their spot in the team which is exactly what they need. Rotherham have excellent values as a club and the lads will most definitely grow up as rugby players and people in their environment.
“They will be on dual registration agreements so they are still able to feature for the Falcons next season although their main playing and training programme will be a couple of hours down the road.”
Titans boss Lee Blackett said: “We think the relationship with Newcastle Falcons is a great one for two Northern clubs to have. Hopefully once these guys have been here for a full year, Newcastle will be getting a better player back and hopefully we'll have had a quality player for a year.
“We are not the biggest fans of loan deals where the player just comes in on a Thursday and Friday and plays and then goes off, and we don’t see him again for the next four or five days. This is a different agreement and the players coming in will be with us on a full time basis and that will benefit the individuals being here full-time. The players coming in will be here for the first day of pre-season until our last game of the year. Both we and Newcastle believe it's going to be massively beneficial to the boys coming in."
“Being a part of the Newcastle set-up they have played a lot for Blaydon and Tynedale and it's a great opportunity for those guys to make the next step up and I think they wouldn't be in Newcastle’s Academy, if Newcastle didn't believe they’d be going on to become Premiership rugby players. We hope we can be a part of that for them, but it's not just about helping them, I think it's going to benefit us as a club massively and it will give us much more strength in depth across the board.”