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Newcastle Falcons suffer nightmare journey home from South Africa

By Chris Jones
Newcastle Falcons suffered a tough 35-13 loss in Johannesburg (Photo by @STEVEHAAGSPORT)

Newcastle Falcons bid to end their ten game losing run this season has become even tougher after a nightmare journey back from the European Challenge Cup 35-13 loss to the Lions in Johannesburg.

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The Falcons players had their flight cancelled and needed to take three planes to eventually arrive back today via Cape Town which has forced a rescheduling of their training for the Premiership clash with Bristol on Friday night at Kingston Park.

Bristol are currently eighth in the table with Newcastle eight points adrift at the bottom.

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Alex Codling, the head coach, was already facing a tough job in his first season in charge and admitted: “It’s the toughest run I have ever had as a coach and we all feel the pain.

“The team’s flight was cancelled on Sunday and they have had to now get three flights back; from Johannesburg to Cape Town; Cape Town to Heathrow and Heathrow to Newcastle and it is just another challenge and the boys have adapted.

“Our team manager has done a brilliant job and they have just arrived back after travelling for about 32 hours. It does pose huge challenges around travel, logistics and how you manage bodies with a smaller squad.

“It will have an impact (on training) and we are just finalising matters and things were put in place once we knew the flight was cancelled. We will know more about that in the morning after the boys have had a good night’s sleep.

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“We will manage that over the next 24 hours and 17 of the squad stayed here and a number of teams did the same including Bristol who we play on Friday night.

“What has happened with the flights has reinforced the decision (to leave players at home) and if we had all been out in South Africa it would have made things very difficult.

“Hopefully, Guy Pepper is available this week and Mateo Carreras is not far away from returning potentially this week. The boys are in good spirits and are desperate to win in front of a big crowd on Friday night. It is massive game for us and we came close to beating Montpellier at home coming back from 17-0 down and we just have to keep working hard.

“What do I want for Christmas? Just a win would be nice.”

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Jon 1 days ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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