Newcastle Falcons’ longstanding commitment to producing homegrown players has once again been demonstrated, with five of last season’s senior academy being promoted into the first-team squad.
The club also welcomes three new players into the 2020-21 senior academy following last season’s exploits, with the Falcons’ first team and development team winning every single one of their games in all competitions.
Promoted into the first team squad from last season’s senior academy cohort are Tom Marshall (flanker), Will Montgomery (lock), Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti (scrum-half), Ben Stevenson (centre/wing) and George Wacokecoke (centre/wing).
Moving up into the senior academy are James Blackett (scrum-half), Phil Brantingham (prop) and Matthew Ward (wing) - all three players having shone at Under-18s level last season as the Falcons reached their first ever national finals day.
Newcastle Falcons academy manager Mark Laycock said: “All three lads have come through our junior academy under the guidance of James Ponton, played for our A-Team against Scottish Super 6 opposition last season as well as being instrumental in our Unders-18 campaign, which ended in a last-minute victory over Bristol Bears on finals day in February.
“They have all applied to study at Newcastle University as part of the dual-career philosophy now embedded within the academy pathway. We are very fortunate to have strong links and good working relationships with the university as it opens up so many options for young aspiring players to keep their dreams of elite level rugby alive, whilst also preparing for their long-term futures.”
Departing the club from last season’s senior academy group are Harry Hill, Josh Hodge and Charlie Wilson. Newcastle Falcons thanks all three players for their efforts during their time with us, and wishes them well for their future endeavours.
NEWCASTLE FALCONS’ 2020-21 SENIOR ACADEMY SQUAD
Josh Basham (back row)
James Blackett (scrum-half)
Phil Brantingham (prop)
Conrad Cade (prop)
Oscar Caudle (prop)
Rob Farrar (lock/back row)
Will Haydon-Wood (fly-half)
Freddie Lockwood (lock/back row)
Chidera Obonna (wing/centre)
Callum Pascoe (scrum-half)
Morgan Passman (wing)
Bailey Ransom (lock)
Charlie Richards (back row)
Matthew Ward (wing)
NEW PLAYER PROFILES
JAMES BLACKETT: (22/10/01, scrum-half, 5ft 9, 79kg)
James has played his junior rugby with RGS Newcastle, Morpeth RFC, Alnwick RFC, Northumberland County and the Falcons Academy. A prolific goal-kicker also capable of playing fly-half, he helped RGS Newcastle to win the coveted St Joseph’s Festival last year, and also played some senior men’s rugby for Alnwick RFC last season.
PHIL BRANTINGHAM: (2/10/01, loose-head prop, 6ft, 116kg)
Phil arrives from RGS Newcastle, having also played his junior rugby for Morpeth RFC, Northumberland County, the Falcons Academy and England Under-18s. He is a skilful and intelligent player who also played rugby league for Cramlington and Newcastle Thunder on a dual-academy pathway until the age of 17, when he chose to focus on rugby union.
MATTHEW WARD: (30/9/01, wing, 6ft, 92kg)
Matthew is a graduate of the Falcons’ AASE programme at Gosforth Academy, having also played for Park View School, Durham City RFC, Durham County, the Falcons Academy and England Under-18s. A natural finisher, Matthew has shown consistent try-scoring ability at schools and academy level. He also scored a try against Medicals in his first game of senior rugby for his hometown club Durham City RFC, when he was just 17.