Tag Archives: falcons

Rugby fans to be taken up close and personal to the players with new television "Refcam"

Rugby fans to be taken up close and personal to the players with new television 'Refcam'

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UPDATED:

11:18 GMT, 19 December 2012

Rugby fans will be closer than ever to the hard-hitting action from this weekend with the introduction of a 'Refcam' which promises to revolutionise how the sport is broadcast.

Officials will have a three-inch square High Definition camera strapped to their chest with a Velcro harness to record the action unfolding in front of them.

Sky Sports directors will have access to the feed for television output, while the RFU will make use of footage for referee training.

New insight: Rugby fans will be able to see the action close up with a new 'Refcam' being trialled in a Championship match this weekend

New insight: Rugby fans will be able to see the action close up with a new 'Refcam' being trialled in a Championship match this weekend

The first referee to wear the 'Refcam' will be Matt Carley, who takes charge of the Championship match between Newcastle Falcons and London Scottish at Kingston Park on Sunday.

The camera should offer a unique perspective into the role of the officials and what happens on the field of play.

It also records audio for an additional insight into conversations and arguments between players in addition to the existing ref's microphone.

If Sunday's trial is successful, the 'Refcam' could become a staple of television coverage of rugby.

'You are looking right into everything,' said Ed Morrison, the RFU's head of elite referees. 'You see what the referee sees. It is a way we can measure ourselves in a more accurate way and at the same time offer more education. The potential is enormous.'

Scrutiny: Officials' decisions will be analysed making use of the video evidence

Scrutiny: Officials' decisions will be analysed making use of the video evidence

Sky made an approach to Morrison last month following a successful experiment by American broadcaster HBO at an Amir Khan bout.

A tiny camera was sewn into the referee's bow tie, delivering a high quality, close quarters feed of every blow.

'I was spellbound,' added Morrison. 'It's a quite incredible piece of technology.

'For a scrum, you are looking down the tunnel. If you want to emphasise something, this will do so enormously.

'We can freeze it and ask a referee, What were you looking for What do you see wrong with that ruck or maul It will make a great training tool.'

The technology was successfully trialled by leading RFU official JP Doyle in a recent under-16 match at Harrow School.

Gus Williamson, Sky's executive rugby producer, said it would 'showcase rugby in a very good light.'

He said: 'The collisions in rugby are so brutal now. Imagine seeing two 18-stone forwards crashing into each other only 18 inches from the referee.

'It will make for some compelling images and it will offer a perspective of what it takes to do the job of the referee.'

The results of the trial, to include a number of Championship fixtures, will be assessed in the new year.

CAMERA TECHNOLOGY IN OTHER SPORTS

Boxing – A tiny camera was sewn into the referee's bow tie by American broadcaster HBO at a recent Amir Khan fight

Cricket – Broadcasters use a variety of technology to judge whether umpires have made the right call, including stump cams, Hawk-eye ball tracking and the Snickometer

Football – Goal line technology was trialled at the FIFA Club World Cup last week, using a microchip in the ball

End to controversy: Goal line technology was trialled by FIFA in the recent Club World Cup using a micro-chipped football and an adapted watch which flashes 'Goal' if the ball crossed the line

End to controversy: Goal line technology was trialled by FIFA in the recent Club World Cup using a micro-chipped football and an adapted watch which flashes 'Goal' if the ball crossed the line

Tennis – Hawk-eye uses ten high-speed cameras around the court to judge whether the ball went out

Chris Foy: Law changes show IRB are going with the flow

Law changes show IRB are going with the flow

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UPDATED:

00:32 GMT, 18 May 2012

It's not often the IRB deserve credit for tinkering with the game, but here goes — the law change experiments to be brought in next season are actually founded on sound principles and common sense. How novel.

In a nutshell, the intention is to enhance the flow of matches, and the plans surely cannot offend even those who prefer stodgy, ‘arm-wrestle’ contests.

Top prize goes to the initiative designed to eradicate the grim spectacle of teams shielding the ball for an age at the base of rucks to prepare another pod of forwards for a close-quarters drive or, more often, to hoof it in the air and give chase in the quest for field position.

The experiment will require the ball to be used within five seconds or the defending team will be awarded a scrum. Hallelujah!

Seasoned: Saracens are masters of shielding the ball

Seasoned: Saracens are masters of shielding the ball

Sorry Saracens (and others, but they are the masters of this practice) but next season can’t come soon enough. This column is in favour of the law being rushed in with immediate effect. Not on a trial basis either, just adopt it and keep it.

Sure, the tactic can be grindingly effective but when it works most observers are in such a deep sleep the subtle brilliance of this cunning ruse is lost on them.

Perhaps that’s why it does work because opposition players have nodded off.

The game has to flow, so the experiment to relax the law governing quick throw-ins is also welcome.

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What should also flow with more urgency is the scrum-setting sequence, so it’s a shame that plans to abbreviate the referee’s instructions have been set aside for further consideration.

There have been endless, urgent calls for the removal of the ‘pause’ order before ‘engage’ but unfortunately there will be a further pause before it is surely removed.

While the prospective amendments are largely positive the need for them illustrates rugby’s main weakness.

Clear and simple laws are the ideal but instead there are endless shades of grey which alienate those who don’t follow the sport closely. The ebb and flow of refereeing interpretations and edicts from on high add further unhelpful complexity.

This column’s less-than-scientific assessment is that, while scrums have been slightly less of a mess of late, there has been a worrying shift back towards the trend for officials to find some fault with any attacking team after a handful of phases.That kills the flow so it needs to be addressed too.

But the law experiments are a step in the right direction.

Tigers' Flood risk

Dispute: Flood

Dispute: Flood

While Harlequins have been preparing for the Aviva Premiership final next weekend with a break in Abu Dhabi, Leicester have needlessly complicated their build-up by becoming embroiled in a dispute with England over Toby Flood’s ankle injury.

Director of rugby Richard Cockerill has railed at national head coach Stuart Lancaster for discussing the matter in public, saying: ‘There’s no need for him to start talking about time frames. That’s privileged information between me and him. Stuart should not be talking about it when Toby is on club duty. I would not talk about an England player when they are playing for England.’

Cockerill barred England physio Phil Pask from examining Flood. Leicester named him at 10 to face Saracens last weekend and later removed him when the reality was he was never in contention. Now the smoke-and-mirrors routine goes on.

Meanwhile, Quins lie low, enjoying the circus sideshow.

Expect Welsh to stay grounded

‘Grounds for concern’ would be the obvious headline to sum up the issues facing this season’s Championship finalists.

London Welsh have applied to be considered for promotion to the Aviva Premiership. Their application is based on moving in as tenants at Oxford United’s Kassam Stadium or another, unknown alternative, possibly Griffin Park — home of Brentford FC. Their case was considered yesterday by the Professional Game Board amid rumours it is likely to be rejected.

Meanwhile, Cornish Pirates’ hopes of moving into a fitting new home are on hold after the council rejected plans for a 10,000-capacity arena in Truro. That is a disastrous, short-sighted decision for Cornwall, a rugby heartland which, with more vision, could and should be represented in the elite.

Unfinished business

Jim Mallinder has agreed a new contract to continue as director of rugby at Northampton until 2015.

Along with Dorian West and Paul Grayson, he has transformed the Midlands club into a force to embellish an already stellar c.v. — making it all the more surprising that he expressed an interest in the England job but then backed off.

New deal: Mallinder

New deal: Mallinder

There is clearly a sense of unfinished business for him at Franklin’s Gardens which is understandable as the Saints keep coming so close to a major title triumph, only to fall short.

Roger Wilson, the outgoing No 8, said this week that Northampton must deal better with pressure. That is the challenge for Mallinder now — he has fine players and an effective method but his side just need one last layer of mental steel.

The last word

There is plenty of British interest in the Amlin Challenge Cup final between Biarritz and Toulon at The Stoop. Iain Balshaw starts at full back for the Basques while their opponents include Jonny Wilkinson, Eifion Lewis-Roberts, Kris Chesney, Joe El-Abd and Dean Schofield. But top billing goes to Steffon Armitage, who has just been named Player of the Year in the Galactico-laden Top 14 league.

Lancaster revealed the flanker was considered for England’s South Africa tour but overlooked due to the late finish of the French season. If Toulon lose their semi-final on June 2, the openside should be summoned to join the Test squad. There is no reason why Chris Robshaw cannot switch to blindside and allow Europe’s form No 7 to revive his international career.

Wasps 10 Newcastle 14: Falcons win but finish bottom

Wasps 10 Newcastle 14: Falcons win but still finish bottom and face relegation

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UPDATED:

15:54 GMT, 5 May 2012

Newcastle face relegation from the Aviva Premiership despite their crunch basement battle against fellow strugglers Wasps ending with a hard-earned victory.

The Falcons finished bottom by a point following a 22-game regular league season that saw them win just six matches.

They needed a bonus point triumph over 11th-placed Wasps – and also deny their opponents a losing one in the process – but that fanciful script never seriously looked like unfolding at a packed Adams Park.

Despair: Matt Thompson holds his head in his hands after Newcastle finished bottom of the Premiership

Despair: Matt Thompson holds his head in his hands after Newcastle finished bottom of the Premiership

Wasps, relieved to start putting an injury-ravaged campaign behind them, saw wing Christian Wade claim his ninth league try of the campaign, while fly-half Nicky Robinson added a conversion and penalty.

Centre James Fitzpatrick touched down for the visitors midway through the second period, a try that Jimmy Gopperth converted, yet a game suffocated by tension had no chance of breaking into the free-scoring spectacular that Newcastle needed.

Even when scrum-half Peter Stringer touched down late on, with Gopperth adding the extras, there was no obvious sign of any further late drama.

Falcons' fate now rests on the outcome of this season's second-tier Championship title race, which will not be concluded until May 30.

Bristol, London Welsh, Bedford and Cornish Pirates are all contesting silverware, although it is thought only Bristol of that quartet categorically meet Premiership entry criteria.

Battle at the bottom: Richard Haughton is tackled by two Newcastle players

Battle at the bottom: Richard Haughton is tackled by two Newcastle players

Newcastle were crowned champions of England 14 years ago after a Rob Andrew-led rugby revolution on Tyneside that was bankrolled by Sir John Hall's millions.

But all they can hope for now is that Bristol come unstuck, with Premiership Rugby and the Rugby Football Union set to issue a statement on promotion eligibility later this month.

The smart money will be on Dean Richards – interim boss Gary Gold's successor next term – inheriting a squad destined to play Championship rugby.

That will not, though, be an unfamiliar experience for the former England number eight, whose three-year worldwide coaching ban imposed following the infamous Bloodgate saga expires this summer.

Richards led Harlequins back into English rugby's top flight at the first time of asking in 2006, and Newcastle should encounter few problems making a rapid return.
But that prospect will not ease the pain for Gold and his players, who are now set to go their separate ways.

Stop there: Billy Vunipola of Wasps is tackled and loses the ball

Stop there: Billy Vunipola of Wasps is tackled and loses the ball

South African Gold is poised to succeed Sir Ian McGeechan at Bath, heading up a coaching team that could also include former England defence coach Mike Ford and ex-London Irish prop Neal Hatley.

In the end, Newcastle came up short, despite posting a second successive Premiership away win that followed their victory at Gloucester three weeks ago.

Ultimately, it was simply too big a task for them as Wasps, inspired by the earlier-than-expected return to action of their captain Marco Wentzel, finally banished their relegation fears.

Wentzel led a Wasps team that featured a rejigged back-row that saw Joe Launchbury and Sam Jones fill the flanker positions, but Newcastle were unchanged from the side beaten 9-3 at home by Saracens last time out.

Anguish: Newcastle Captain James Hudson holds his head in his hands after Newcastle finished bottom of the Premiership

Anguish: Newcastle Captain James Hudson holds his head in his hands after Newcastle finished bottom of the Premiership

Rival goalkickers Robinson and Gopperth were both wide with early long-range penalty attempts, and they proved the most notable scoring opportunities during a forgettable first 30 minutes.

Wasps lost scrum-half Charlie Davies with a hamstring injury – Nic Berry replaced him – but the Falcons established territorial control as the opening half drew to its close.

Despite looking threatening with ball in hand, Newcastle lacked the finishing touch, and Wasps took advantage when Robinson landed an angled 37th-minute penalty.

And there was worse to come for the visitors during injury time as full-back Richard Haughton's slicing break from deep inside his own half scattered Newcastle's defence.

Robinson acted as a link man, and then floated a superb pass to Wade, who sprinted clear for his eighth try of the league campaign.

Robinson slotted the touchline conversion, and Newcastle were effectively down and out in terms of their pre-match target, trailing 10-0.

Wasps prop Ben Broster was sin-binned by referee Wayne Barnes for a technical offence early in the second period, but Newcastle again sacrificed a kickable penalty for an attacking scrum.

And such an approach was rewarded when Fitzpatrick crashed over for a try that required confirmation from television match official Graham Hughes, before Gopperth added the extras.

Stringer then crossed in the final seconds, with Gopperth converting to give Newcastle the win they required, but with insufficient tries, to leave them facing an uncertain future.

Newcastle 3 Saracens 9: Semi-final spot for Sarries after nail-biting finale

Newcastle 3 Saracens 9: Semi-final spot for Sarries after nail-biting finale

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UPDATED:

23:50 GMT, 20 April 2012

Newcastle earned a crucial losing bonus point to keep alive their hopes of avoiding relegation.

Champions Saracens relied on three penalties from England's Owen Farrell and repelled a valiant late charge by the Falcons.

Inspired by former Ireland scrum half Peter Stringer, Newcastle came within inches of gaining a shock try in the final seconds which would have left them needing a conversion for victory.

Pure delight: Adam Powell celebrates Saracens' narrow win over Newcastle

Pure delight: Adam Powell celebrates Saracens' narrow win over Newcastle

Instead, they had to accept a point
which means that if Wasps lose at Bath today, they will host Newcastle
in a relegation decider on May 5.

Newcastle's acting director of rugby
Gary Gold applauded his team's courage but was disappointed they had
been beaten up front by Saracens, who gained two of their three
penalties from collapsed scrums.

Any help will do: Peter Stringer reacts during the thrilling final few minutes at Kingston Park

Any help will do: Peter Stringer reacts during the thrilling final few minutes at Kingston Park

Fumble: Newcastle had chances

Fumble: Newcastle had chances

'We let ourselves down in certain
areas, our set-piece did not function and we never got anything going,'
he said. 'But it was an incredible amount of heart and we fought until
the bitter end as we said we would.'

Farrell missed two first-half chances
but kept his nerve to give Saracens a 3-0 lead in the 18th minute and
doubled the advantage at the start of the second half.

Jimmy Gopperth replied for Newcastle only for Farrell to kick a third penalty in the 65th minute.

After that kick the match became a
fraught affair. Saracens lost substitute lock Justin Melck as Newcastle
finished on top, urged on by Stringer, who has also spent three months
on loan at Sarries this season.

Under his direction, the Falcons battered the line for the last five minutes only to be repelled by some brilliant defence.

Newcastle Falcons plot Saracens scalp

Falcons plot Saracens scalp as race to avoid relegation hots up

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UPDATED:

08:30 GMT, 20 April 2012

Newcastle boss Gary Gold has braced his men for their toughest challenge of the season as the Falcons look to keep their Aviva Premiership survival hopes alive against Saracens.

Gold and his ex-England assistants John Wells and Mike Ford have worked wonders since their arrival at Kingston Park and the bottom club now sit just four points behind Wasps with two matches to play.

If Newcastle can close that gap this weekend – Wasps tackle Bath on Saturday- it will tee up their May 5 trip to Adams Park as a winner takes all relegation showdown.

On the up: Newcastle Falcons have been in fine form of late

On the up: Newcastle Falcons have been in fine form of late

'In the last few weeks we have been in a situation where every game has been a cup final and this week will be no different,' said Gold, who has guided Newcastle to successive wins against Sale Sharks and Gloucester.

'Saracens will be right up for it as they are playing for a home semi-final and we are playing for Premiership survival.

'The type of style of rugby that they play is incredibly difficult to play against and each player knows exactly what they are doing.

'It has been a tough week in training as we have the Premiership champions coming to town on Friday night. They are very well-drilled and you do not reach two Premiership finals in a row by accident.

'They are incredibly well coached with a good bunch of guys down there – I would go as far as saying that this is our toughest challenge of the season to date, there is no question about that.'

Working wonders: Gary Gold (second left) has made an instant impact

Working wonders: Gary Gold (second left) has made an instant impact

At the other end of the table, Saracens are pushing for a home semi-final after being edged into third place following their defeat to Harlequins.

The Premiership season is building towards a thrilling finale. All but one match this weekend has something significant riding on it.

On Saturday, leaders Harlequins tackle second-placed Leicester while Gloucester host Sale, with both sides battling for the final Heineken Cup place.

To add extra spice to the occasion, Bryan Redpath, who resigned as Gloucester boss this week after a run of four defeats, has been strongly linked with the vacant head coach's role at his former club Sale.

On Sunday, the Exeter Chiefs host Northampton at a sold-out Sandy Park with both sides competing for the fourth semi-final position.

Newcastle 22 Sale 19: Jimmy Gopperth scores late penalty

Newcastle 22 Sale 19: Cool Gopperth holds nerve to land Falcons a relegation lifeline

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UPDATED:

23:08 GMT, 30 March 2012

Jimmy Gopperth gave Newcastle hope of Aviva Premiership survival by landing a dramatic late penalty to pip Sale at Kingston Park.

Newcastle’s sixth win of the season cuts the deficit behind Wasps, who host Gloucester, to four points.

Gopperth endured a mixed night, having handed Sale one try in the first half before finishing up the match winner.

Jumping for joy: Jonny Golding celebrates the win at the final whistle

Jumping for joy: Jonny Golding celebrates the win at the final whistle

He kicked 17 points including a difficult conversion of Tim Swinson’s second-half try.

That levelled the scores at 19-19 and
the New Zealander missed another kick in the 69th minute before
accepting his final chance three minutes from time, to the delight of
5,200 fans.

Victory was welcomed by Newcastle’s acting director of rugby, Gary Gold.

High jump: James Hudson wins a lineout ball

High jump: James Hudson wins a lineout ball

‘I’m thrilled for the fans because they deserve to watch a winning team. They support us through thick and thin,’ he said.

Gold said he had to put a ‘comforting
arm’ around Gopperth at half-time after the fly-half botched a high
kick which led to a Sale try for Rob Miller. He had also only kicked
four penalties from six.

Boot-iful: Newcastle fly-half Jimmy Gopperth kicks the winning penalty

Boot-iful: Newcastle fly-half Jimmy Gopperth kicks the winning penalty

‘I just told him what a good player he is and to crack on,’ said Gold. ‘He takes his misses very personally.’

Sale looked to have far too much pace
for Newcastle in a first half when they scored three tries through
Miller, wing Tom Brady and lock James Gaskell.

Dai Young admits Wasps crisis

Wasps in crisis as Young has five matches to save giants of the game

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UPDATED:

23:41 GMT, 23 March 2012

Dai Young wasn't quite prepared for
this. Wasps' season has become a drawn-out fight for survival as a team,
as a club and as an English rugby institution.

It's a fight that has produced countless casualties and it's not over yet.

Putting
aside the backdrop of retirements and injuries, rejected stadium plans
and a pending change of ownership, the Welsh director of rugby is quite
clear about the gravity of the situation.

'People have said that Wasps are at a crossroads and I would totally agree with that,' he conceded.

Future perfect: Dai Young says he can see light at the end of the tunnel for Wasps

Future perfect: Dai Young says he can see light at the end of the tunnel for Wasps

It is a crossroads with heavy traffic thundering past in every direction; where one wrong move could lead to disaster.'

On Saturday evening, Wasps are at Franklin's Gardens to confront Northampton – a side awash with Test pedigree and title-chasing class.

The visitors used to possess such collective stature and ambition, but they are in do-or-die mode, lying 11th in the Aviva Premiership table, eight points ahead of bottom-placed Newcastle prior to the Falcons' showdown with Worcester on Friday night.

In their last league outing, Young's side beat London Irish 18-13 to end a sequence of nine straight defeats which had plunged them into trouble.

There are five matches left and the script points to a grandstand finale when Newcastle come to Adams Park on May 5.

Juggling act: Young is under no illusions over the task facing Wasps

Juggling act: Young is under no illusions over the task facing Wasps

Assessing this predicament, the former Lions prop said: 'We have to make sure we maintain the cushion we've got now. We're certainly not out of the woods yet because I think Newcastle will win some games.

'Teams who've gone down like Harlequins or Northampton have had a long, hard look at themselves then bounced back far better for the experience.

'I'm hoping we can go through that process without going down first. People think Wasps should be at the top, but we've got no right to be there.

'The club has been in decline for three years and it has to stop. I believe we will still be in the Premiership next year, but we need a top-to-bottom review whether we're in the Premiership or not.'

For Young himself, this has been a tale of the unexpected.

He agreed to move to Wasps from Cardiff – where he had transformed the Blues into title contenders in domestic and European rugby – on the basis that the club were poised to finalise plans for a new stadium in Wycombe, bringing improved facilities, increased attendances and ultimately, better players.

He thought he was joining a bastion of the English game ready to rise again under a committed owner and inspired by a battalion of international veterans.

Instead, that vision soon turned to dust.

Gone: Thompson

Gone: Thompson

Gone: Worsley

Gone: Worsley

Gone: Ward-Smith

Gone: Ward-Smith

Plans for the stadium were rejected, owner Steve Hayes subsequently decided to put the club up for sale and in the mean-time, several leading players were forced to retire – Steve Thompson, Joe Worsley, Dan Ward-Smith and most recently, Tom Rees.

Simon Shaw opted to join Toulon and the injuries came in waves – 15 of a serious nature in all.

Young has had to adapt. He has tried to be philosophical about the gulf between expectation and reality, but it's not been easy.

'There has been so much to deal with and most of it has been unexpected,' he said.

Dynamic duo: Rees (left) retired and Shaw (right) opted to move

Dynamic duo: Rees (left) retired and Shaw (right) opted to move

Dynamic duo: Rees (left) retired and Shaw (right) opted to move

'Certainly, it hasn't turned out the way I thought it would. People ask me whether I feel a bit stitched up and I would categorically say I don't. I am sure that everything I was told is what people genuinely believed at the time, but circumstances changed. Hindsight is a marvellous thing. I don't regret leaving Cardiff to come here, but it's fair to say that the picture changed quite considerably from the job I expected to the job I actually had.

On the market: Hayes put the club up for sale

On the market: Hayes put the club up for sale

'I just hope the sale of the club goes through quickly so we can get the funding to improve our squad and our infrastructure, because it's not good enough. There's still a lot of ability and pride and history at Wasps, there's still a lot of heart and support, but that won't get us everywhere.'

While he has been heavily occupied with the task of keeping Wasps in the top division, Young has savoured the welcome diversion of seeing many of the players he brought through at the Blues play a major part in another Grand Slam for Wales.

Mixed in with the personal pride is a strong conviction that a similar crop of talented youngsters at Wasps can re-establish the club's lost status as one of the leading contributors to England squads.

'It does give me a buzz to see Jamie Roberts, Leigh Halfpenny, Sam Warburton, Alex Cuthbert doing well with Wales, because they were all players who I signed up and brought through our academy,' he said.

'I'm very proud to see those guys doing so well and also Gethin Jenkins, who has been around a lot longer and I spent a lot of time working with.

'There are a lot of quality young players here too – Christian Wade, Billy Vunipola, Joe Launchbury, Elliot Daly. I can see light at the end of the tunnel and I'd like to be here for a long time, to see these guys playing for England. That would give me the same pride as seeing Leigh Halfpenny and Sam Warburton playing for Wales.'

Stars of the future: Christian Wade (left) and Joe Launchbury (right)

Stars of the future: Christian Wade (left) and Joe Launchbury (right)

Stars of the future: Christian Wade (left) and Joe Launchbury (right)

That is a hope for the future – a future at Wasps that will be enhanced by the return of England forwards James Haskell and Tom Palmer in the summer.

But back to the present, the task at hand is to avoid the drop, starting with today's daunting trip to the East Midlands.

'Is it a good time to go to Franklin's Gardens, when Northampton have just lost a final and they've got all their internationals back Probably not,' said Young.

'We know it's a tough place to go and we know we haven't had much joy there for a number of seasons, but we also know this game is important to us. We're going there to win, but our focus is to make sure we come away with something.'

If he can just complete this perilous survival mission, then Young can start plotting the re-building and revival programme, which is what he really had in mind when he took the job on.

Dean Richards confirms Newcastle move after Bloodgate ban

Richards relishing Falcons role as former Quins boss confirms move after Bloodgate ban

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UPDATED:

09:43 GMT, 14 March 2012

Newcastle have confirmed that Dean Richards will take over as the club's new director of rugby when his 'Bloodgate' suspension expires in August.

The former Leicester and Harlequins boss revealed he had received a number of offers from Aviva Premiership clubs but he was convinced by the ambition of Falcons owner Semore Kurdi.

Richards has committed to joining Newcastle even if the club, who are currently bottom of the Premiership, are relegated.

New start: Dean Richards will join Newcastle Falcons in August

New start: Dean Richards will join Newcastle Falcons in August

'I am delighted to get the opportunity to join Newcastle Falcons,' Richards told the club's website.

'Whilst there was interest from other clubs, there are two reasons why I chose the Falcons – the supporters and Semore Kurdi's ambition for the club.

'I met up with Semore and his vision made my mind up.'

Bad boy Delon Armitage on the receiving end for Irish at Newcastle

Bad boy Armitage on the receiving end for Irish at Newcastle

London Irish and England full-back Delon Armitage faces the possibility of further disciplinary proceedings after a bad-tempered game at Newcastle.

Armitage, who has had his fair share
of brushes with the rugby authorities, was possibly more sinned against
than the sinner in his side's 19-10 defeat at Newcastle – a result which
keeps alive the Falcons' faint hopes of avoiding relegation.

Armitage was felled by a punch by
Falcons lock Adriaan Fondse which led to the South African being sent
off in the 60th minute by referee JP Doyle after the intervention of his
touch judge.

In the thick of it: Delon Armitage talks to a line-judge during the Newcastle game

In the thick of it: Delon Armitage talks to a line-judge during the Newcastle game

Armitage was left on the ground holding his head but was roundly booed by the crowd who clearly felt he had made more of the incident then he needed to.

The Falcons fans were further incensed when Armitage charged into a tackle later in the game and appeared to short-arm Newcastle centre James Fitzpatrick.

There was no penalty and the referee either did not see the incident or possibly felt there was nothing wrong with the tackle, but many of the crowd disagreed and there is the possibility Armitage could be cited if the independent match commissioner feels there is a case to answer.

Squaring up: Newcastle forward Mark Wilson (second right) has words with Delon Armitage

Squaring up: Newcastle forward Mark Wilson (second right) has words with Delon Armitage

It was also Armitage's pass that was intercepted by Newcastle wing Ryan Shortland for the crucial Falcons try. London Irish head coach Toby Booth was in no doubt that Armitage had been struck.

'I've seen it and I don't think the referee had any choice. It was a punch,' he said.

Newcastle's director of rugby Gary Gold added: 'I haven't seen the incident, but I'm sure the referee is not going to make a red card decision very easily and I'm very disappointed.

'Our backs are against the wall and that is one of things you can control and I will be very disappointed if we have let ourselves down.'

Newcastle 19 London Irish 10

Newcastle 19 London Irish 10: Falcons boost survival hopes with scrappy win

Ryan Shortland's interception try handed Newcastle a relegation lifeline as they scrambled to victory over London Irish at Kingston Park.

The Falcons came back from 10-6 down at half-time to win with 14 men after the sending-off of lock Adriaan Fondse in the 60th minute.

With Wasps losing to Exeter, the gap at the bottom of the Aviva Premiership between the Falcons and Wasps is now down to six points, but Newcastle now face two tough matches in succession with a trip to Leicester and home clash with Harlequins.

Party time: Falcons try-scoring wing Ryan Shortland (centre) is congratulated

Party time: Falcons try-scoring wing Ryan Shortland (centre) is congratulated

Fondse was sent off for throwing a punch at Delon Armitage, who was subjected to a storm of booing from the crowd who thought he made the most of the incident.

The England full-back was lucky to escape punishment for an apparent forearm smash on Falcons centre James Fitzpatrick late in the game and he may yet be cited for that.

Falcons prop Jon Golding and London Irish number eight Richard Thorpe were also yellow-carded for fighting in the dying minutes of a game which became increasingly ill-tempered.

It was an error-strewn match with both sides struggling to handle a bitingly cold strong wind, although Jimmy Gopperth managed to give another kicking masterclass with three penalties, a conversion and a drop goal – his one miss was when he hit the post from 45 metres.

Kicking king: Falcons fly-half Jimmy Gopperth kicks a penalty against London Irish

Kicking king: Falcons fly-half Jimmy Gopperth kicks a penalty against London Irish

Gopperth kicked a fourth-minute penalty after Irish made three unforced errors, handing the Falcons good field position, and then straying offside.

Irish were back on level terms through a 12th minute Tom Homer penalty when Newcastle infringed at a ruck and the Falcons conceded a soft try when they lost their own line-out in the Irish 22 and Armitage's kick was deflected.

Newcastle were unable to control the loose ball and Irish swept away for Sailosi Tagicakibau to score and Homer converted before Gopperth's 37th-minute drop goal after a series of controlled drives made the half-time score 10-6.

Stretch: Falcons hooker Rob Vickers drives towards the Irish line

Stretch: Falcons hooker Rob Vickers drives towards the Irish line

Six minutes into the second half Gopperth landed a 45-metre penalty after the Falcons scrum had Irish on the back foot and when Homer missed a straightforward penalty, there was a palpable lift in Newcastle.

Then Shortland intercepted Armitage's pass when Irish were three-on-one on the Newcastle 10 metre line and he raced in for the try converted by Gopperth, who then hit the post with a long-range penalty.

However, he had another chance with 14-man Newcastle well on top with four minutes left and he made no mistake from the same distance to make it 19-10 and raise the Falcons hopes of avoiding the drop.