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'The show must go on' - with Newcastle's players pulling the pints!

By Paul Smith
Newcastle's players stepped in as emergency bar staff (PA)

Details are emerging of the remarkable effort with which Newcastle Falcons managed to get their round eight Gallagher Premiership clash with Worcester Warriors to go ahead.

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As a result of the North East of England being battered by Storm Arwen during the course of Friday the match – which was not televised – was rearranged 24 hours later on Saturday evening.

Unusually it went ahead without the presence of a TMO, since the impact of the storm meant on-site production trucks were no longer available to provide replays.

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Willie le Roux
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Willie le Roux

But it was the Herculean effort with which the club provided 3376 hardy souls with a live game to enjoy that really captured the imagination of the rugby-watching public.

This included a number of the playing squad who were not involved in the matchday group volunteering to serve behind Kingston Park’s bars.

“It was all very last minute but the lads enjoyed it,” club captain Mark Wilson said.

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“About 15 of us came down and got stuck in behind the bar – we had mixed abilities but it was good fun.

“Service wasn’t the fastest but we didn’t get too many complaints and it was good to have some craic with the supporters who came along.

“Because of the weather we were down to something like 30 per cent of the normal bar staff.

“Not many of the lads had worked in a bar before so it was good to see and I’m sure the supporters appreciated it.”

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This opinion was endorsed by Falcons’ fans on Twitter, one of whom commented: “Amazing effort to get the game on, and I was served a pint by an an England international and an Argentina international. Took 10 minutes to get served cos we were taking selfies!”

Sadly Newcastle’s tremendous club spirit did not have an entirely happy ending since Worcester battled their way to a 24-all draw, but despite this director of rugby Dean Richards paid a fulsome tribute to everyone involved in preventing a further postponement.

“Full credit to the grounds staff and maintenance team because they were here from 6am or even earlier, working in horrific conditions to get the game on,” he said.

“They’ve worked tirelessly for two days to give us a game, and the whole club’s staff have chipped in as they always do. We could quite easily have had a cancellation with the way the weather was, but it was a massive effort from the staff here and also the supporters who braved the elements to come and cheer us on.

“The players not involved in the game came in and worked behind the bars due to the staff shortages caused by the re-arrangement, and we’re a tight-knit club.

“I think that’s why everyone’s doubly disappointed with not winning, because they know what an effort has been made to get the thing played.

“A group of professional rugby players were asked if they’d be willing to come in and work on the bars, and they had every right to tell us to get lost. But they didn’t, because they’re not like that. They came along and chipped in, and I think that speaks volumes for their character and the ethos we have here.”

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