ANDY Saull has revealed the tropical toast with which he greeted Newcastle Falcons’ promotion back to the Aviva Premiership.
The former Saracens and England Saxons flanker had agreed to join the club not knowing what division they would be playing in, and was a nervous wreck during the Championship play-off final despite being thousands of miles away in the middle of the Atlantic.
“I was actually in a beach rugby tournament in Bermuda when the final was being played, and I was constantly checking Twitter to see what the score was in between our games,” said the flanker, whose future employers eventually secured a 49-33 aggregate victory over Bedford to regain their top-flight status.
“There were nervous moments right throughout because all I could see were numbers, so I had no idea about the ebb and flow of the game in terms of who was dominating the play.
“A lot of my mates at Saracens were playing for Bedford, so I knew the quality they had and the ability to sting Newcastle. I had a couple of mates in the Falcons’ team in Noah Cato and Adam Powell, though, and according to them it was never in doubt!”
Toasting the Falcons’ sweet success with a sugary hit, he added: “I wasn’t resting until that final whistle, and when it eventually came I allowed myself to celebrate with a full-fat Coke instead of a diet one. I was on holiday, after all!”
The 24-year-old’s arrival is a mark of the growing appeal for a Newcastle side now under the stewardship of Dean Richards, and the early impressions of life in the North East are favourable for the Londoner.
Saull said: “I have signed up to move into a house next to my old Saracens team-mate Adam Powell, so it looks like the two Essex boys are going for safety in numbers.
“We are hoping to rival the Scottish clan when it comes to foreigners in Geordieland, but unfortunately they have more bodies than us at the moment.
“All joking aside, though, I am loving it up here, and it seems like a really friendly city. You jump in a cab and the driver tells you his life story. Everyone is so happy to take time and chat to you, and I have already made a lot of good mates outside of rugby in the few weeks I have been here.”
Reporting equally positive progress in terms of his new club’s pre-season preparations, the open-side added: “All rugby teams that I have been part of have a similar atmosphere going on with the guys, and it has been a lot of fun so far. The coaching set-up here is unbelievable. They let you know what they want, and while there is that slight element of freedom you also know that the work needs to be done.
“There are regular skill sessions, even in the conditioning phase, and everything is going in the right direction.
“Obviously there are a lot of new guys and new calls, so it is a little bit scrappy, but that is what you would expect at this time of year when you are getting to know how people operate in a match scenario.” Looking forward to finally benefiting from the Kingston Park factor, Saull said: “I have rarely won here in all the years I have come up with Saracens.
“I can tell you guys from other clubs don’t like coming here. Put in a couple of hits, and they just don’t want to know.
“It is nice to be on the other end of that now in terms of being part of the home team for those games, and I am looking forward to the new season.”