Newcastle Falcons players Glen Young and Tom Penny are determined to turn a season of near misses into a year of silverware as they head out to Mauritius for the Beachcomber World Club 10s.
The tournament on June 15-17 sees the Falcons pooled with Japanese side Kobelco Steelers, whose squad includes Australian great Adam Ashley-Cooper, French Top 14 finalists Montpellier and Tsunami Pyrenees, whose line-up includes All Black great Conrad Smith.
The other pool in the eight-team tournament sees New Zealand 7s legend DJ Forbes starring for the Asia-Pacific Dragons in a group including Australian side Western Force plus South African Super Rugby sides the Bulls and Sharks.
The Bulls, whose squad includes five South African 7s internationals, are the reigning champions of the Beachcomber World Club 10s, but Falcons forward Young insists Newcastle are flying out intent on taking their crown.
“We had a good season last year, reaching four semi-finals and then the final of the Premiership 7s, but we never quite managed to land the silverware,” said the former Scotland Under-20s cap.
“That’s something we want to put right, and it’ll be great to start the season with a trophy.
“Cameron Cowell has played 10s before and is an experienced England 7s international, our coach Aiden McNulty has been doing a fair bit of analysis on the 10s game and we’ll be pretty well prepared by the time we get out to Mauritius.
“We’ll get in some good training in the heat, the games will be a decent standard and for me it’s just a chance to start the Falcons’ pre-season on the front foot. Aiden has said from the start that he’s not hiding the fact we’re going out to win the tournament, we’re putting that message out there and everyone here feels the same.”
Explaining the concept of 10s, in which teams have five forwards and five backs, Young said: “I like the 10s game because it’s a bit of a mix of 7s and 15s – it’s basically 7s pace with 15s physicality.
“The boys who are going are just really looking forward to the opportunity. As well as being a great trip it’s a chance to get a head start on pre-season, and that’s how I’m looking at it. A number of the boys have maybe not played a huge amount of Premiership rugby over the past season, so it’s a great chance for some competitive game time and to get a bit of rugby in.”
The Falcons have selected a well-balanced squad which includes the finishing power of Adam Radwan and Zach Kibirige, while experienced forward pair Ally Hogg and Rob Vickers will bow out of the professional game in Mauritius.
For centre Tom Penny the trip represents the opportunity to continue on from a strong finish to last season, the academy product saying: “All the boys are really excited to be back in and there’s a great buzz about the place.
“We’re preparing properly from the tournament, it’s not a jolly and we’re going there to win it. Whenever you put that Newcastle Falcons name into a competition you have to take it seriously, and all the chat from the very first meeting was that we’re going out there to win the thing.
“We’ve got quite a young group overall with Ally Hogg and Bobby Vickers adding some experience, and we’re excited to be out there.
“We’ve got two French sides and a Japanese club in our group, so it’s an interesting mix.
“They’ve played in it before so may be a little bit more familiar with the format, but we’re putting in some good preparation work. We’ve got an exciting side with plenty of tries in it and we want to show the coaches what we can do.”
Newcastle Falcons squad for Beachcomber World Club 10s (June 15-17 in Mauritius)
Forwards – Jamie Blamire, Ryan Burrows, Connor Collett, Andrew Davidson, Ally Hogg, Jack Payne, Rob Vickers, Glen Young.
Backs - Brett Connon, Cameron Cowell, Zach Kibirige, Tom Penny, Adam Radwan, Ben Stevenson, Sam Stuart, Charlie Wilson.