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Newcastle defend club's culture after 100 people face RFU grilling

By Chris Jones
Press Association

Head coach Dave Walder has defended Newcastle Falcon’s diversity record following reports that almost 100 people involved with the club had been interviewed as part of the Rugby Football Union’s investigation into allegations of racism in the sport made by Luther Burrell, their former England centre.

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Burrell revealed yesterday that the RFU report on the investigation is due to be revealed in “a couple of weeks” with the ex-Falcons squad member insisting he has not thrown anyone or any club “under the bus.”

With Newcastle appearing to be singled out for particular attention by the investigation, Walder has been quick to highlight the club’s record of accommodating players from all over the rugby world and their current squad includes representatives of Fiji, Samoa, USA and Argentina.

The Falcons have previously created opportunities for players from Fiji to talk about their home country while Samoan players have cooked for their teammates using a traditional firepit. Walder, whose squad is currently without three Pumas internationals on test duty, has now lost Fijian utility back George Wacokecoke who broke his ankle in the loss to Bath and he is not expected to be back until the end of the season.

As Walder prepared for the long coach trip to this weekend’s Premiership match at Gloucester, he said: “There was a story and investigations have taken place and we have to wait for the findings to discover what went on. There were interviews a while ago and we have a brilliant group at the club and I can’t speak highly enough of them. I love working with them everyday and the fact that there are people from all different backgrounds from all around the world.

“Over the years, some of the most enjoyable meetings have been when we have had culture days. We have asked different cultures to present on their backgrounds and lives. For example I didn’t realise that in Fiji the people living on the coast are far more Americanised than those from the mountains and Niki Goneva and Tevita Cavubati presented to us.

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“That is something I have always enjoyed about Newcastle is the diversity of the group and how we all pull together in the same direction.

“When I lived in London with Wasps people would leave training and go to a different part of the city and you wouldn’t see or talk to them. Up here in Newcastle everyone lives within 10-15 mins of each other and there is far more coffee groups and socials with larger numbers because they are so close together.”

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