Chris Pilgrim and James Fitzpatrick have signed two-year deals with RFU Championship outfit Leeds Carnegie.
Pilgrim, 28, and Fitzpatrick, 26, will join Leeds ahead of the 2014-15 campaign, with centre Fitzpatrick set to move on loan to the Yorkshire club this month.
Scrum-half Pilgrim made the switch to Newcastle from Nottingham Rugby in the summer of 2009, having previously played for Loughborough Students and England at Students and Counties levels. A dedicated trainer day in and day out, Pilgrim’s commitment came to the fore when, just two games into the Falcons’ 2012-13 Championship winning season, he sustained an anterior cruciate ligament injury, ruling him out for the remainder of the campaign. However, testament to his character, the Birkenhead-born half-back got himself back in contention for selection and was named on the bench for the first leg of the Championship play-off semi-final against Leeds at Headingley.
Meanwhile, Fitzpatrick joined the northeasterners in the summer of 2010 after a string of impressive displays for local clubs Westoe and Blaydon. Crossing the whitewash 13 times in 22 outings for Blaydon during the 2009-10 season, Fitzpatrick earned himself a call-up to the England Counties squad later that year, not to mention a pro deal with the Falcons.
Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards said: “Chris and James are both talented individuals and both need to be playing regular first team rugby. Their move to Leeds is a great opportunity for that to happen and I wish them all the very best for the future.
“It’s always sad to lose someone local like Fitzy, but we’ve spoken about the chances that he’ll get at Kingston Park and I sincerely hope it won’t be the end of his association with the club.”