Newcastle Falcons: Underachieving Rugby Team With Plenty to Prove
Newcastle Falcons History and Highlights.
Founding and Name Changes
A group of Durham schoolboys famously founded the Falcons in 1877. Soon after, they merged with Northumberland, another club in the area. Initially, they were called the Gosforth Football Club.
The Falcons’ Name
Since then, the Newcastle Falcons have had multiple name changes. When they turned professional in 1995, they adopted the name ‘Newcastle Rugby Club’ and let the junior players leave to form ‘Gosforth Rugby Football Club’ in memory of their founding name.
However, in 1997 they changed again, settling on Newcastle Falcons.
Sprint to the Title
Since their founding, the Newcastle Falcons’ success has mostly been in local smaller tournaments, except for the 1997-98 season. That year, a blend of experience and talent led the club to some unprecedented lands.
The Falcons won their only Premiership Rugby title two years after becoming professional. With the playoff system not being in place during this period, it was a straight race to the end of the season for all teams across 22 matches.
Despite losing to their biggest rivals that season with just five matches left to play, the Newcastle Falcons were able to pull through the remaining fixtures and win the league by a single point.
Success in the RFU Championship
The club has also been champions of the RFU Championship, the second division in England’s rugby tier, on three separate occasions. The most recent victory was during the 2019-20 season after suffering relegation the previous year.
Many would argue the club was only relegated because its squad was limited, and after advancing further in cup competitions than expected, injuries hit and caused their league campaign form to dip drastically.
This argument was further backed by the team’s performance in the RFU Championship the following season, as they lost only 1 match out of 22 and finished on 98 points, 24 points from second-placed Nottingham.
They scored an impressive 677 points and only conceded 252, with a points difference of 425. To make a comparison, the team with the closest point differential was over 200 points away.
The club is yet to win any European Champions.
It’s not often a club can boast of having one of the greatest ever players, never mind as a fly-half. Jonny Wilkinson was a Falcons player between 1997-2009, making 182 appearances and scoring over 2000 points.
He was part of the team’s 1998 Premiership title, and internationally, he won 91 caps for England along with multiple titles. However, despite being a Six Nations winner on four occasions, including a Grand Slam in 2003, Wilkinson will always be known for scoring the winner against Australia at the 2003 World Cup, kicking the ball through the posts to secure the cup.
To this day, he remains their highest point scorer in the Premiership with 1,489.
Another legend of the club is Tom May. A versatile player that could play multiple positions, including Centre, Fly-half, and as a Winger, he made 257 appearances for the falcons and scored 477 points. He holds the record for most appearances (193) and most tries (47) for the Falcons in the Premiership.
May enjoyed a 19-year career and won 2 caps for the international squad, making his debut against Argentina at Old Trafford.