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From journeyman to Premiership's top lineout thief

By Chris Jones

Sebastian de Chaves’ dramatic transformation from second row journeyman into the Premiership’s leading line out stealer, is helping Newcastle overcome the loss of highly rated lock Sean Robinson, who had surgery on a dislocated shoulder yesterday.


That is a major blow not only for the Falcons, but also ruins Robinson’s chance of pushing for a place in Steve Borthwick’s first England squad as the Falcons second row is one of the Premiership’s top line out forwards this season with 37 wins.

De Chaves, who has a season high nine steals while also taking 47 lineouts on his own ball, will be a major obstacle for struggling Bath at the Recreation Ground who have lost their last five games in all competitions.

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The 32-year-old is in his second spell with Newcastle having been brought in as an extra option, but international calls removed American Eagle Greg Peterson early in the season opening the way for de Chaves, who was part of the Falcons squad which won the 2019-20 Championship title, to play in 12 matches in all competitions. The Falcons, who are currently in eighth place in the Premiership, having also knocked over Gloucester, Bristol and Exeter in the league.

De Chaves, who is qualified to represent South Africa, Portugal, and England, has had a busy career that has taken him to Newcastle (twice), Mont-de-Marsan in the French Top 14, Leicester Tigers, London Irish, Wasps and prior to returning to Kingston Park, to the MLR in America where he was vice captain of Austin Gilgronis in Texas.

The Gilgronis clinched a play-off berth in the 2022 season before being disqualified from the post-season by MLR for “violating league rules”. In October 2022, MLR announced the Gilgronis and the LA Giltinis , both owned by Adam Gilchrist, had been expelled from the league for unspecified reasons.

Head coach Dave Walder said: “Seb has been great and it’s a second coming for him here at Newcastle and to be fair he has probably played more rugby than he would have expected. He has been playing every week and Scotty McLeod (lineout coach) and Seb sit down every week and work out the options the opposition are going to come with and he has been brilliant.


“He makes sure the guys around him are switched on and against Sale we had three key steals off their throw in the first half when things were going for us and we could have gone in 21-0 down but kept it to 14-0 and made that excellent come back in the second half to win. His steals gave us more confidence and was a big part of that comeback.”


Working out line out calls and second guessing the opposition is a major strength for the Johannesburg born lock who is 6ft 8in and is currently studying for a masters in sports and exercise psychology at the university of Staffordshire with the aim of becoming a fully chartered sports psychologist.

He said: “The Premiership is one of the best and most competitive leagues in the world and my first spell at Newcastle was very enjoyable. To have won the Championship was amazing to be a part of and I would like to think I bring some experience and set-piece expertise.”

Bath, who won at Kingston Park earlier in the season, now have to find a way of avoiding the Premiership’s top lineout thief.


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