NEVER let it be said James Hudson is insufficiently prepared. Even when it came to yesterday’s charity bake-off, Newcastle Falcons’ lock spent the previous three days sourcing and refining bespoke club-branded rice-paper for his cup-cakes.
Such attention to detail is symptomatic of the former skipper’s meticulous approach, raising funds on his day off for Comic Relief and the new ‘Restart’ charity set up by the Rugby Players’ Association to help ill and injured members.
Vying with clubmates Ally Hogg, Rob Vickers and Rory Lawson in an Apprentice-style competition to make and sell 1,000 cup-cakes around the city centre, the line-out general arrived half-an-hour early with a few tricks up his sleeve.
Hudson said: “I can’t claim the full credit, because my wife is the brains of the operation.
“You have to have a bit of brand awareness, so we had a search online and found a local supplier who could knock up Newcastle Falcons rice-paper to give us the edge when we went out to sell our wares. I think the results look pretty good!”
Not detracting in the least from his team’s rugby preparation ahead of Saturday night’s visit of Cornish Pirates, the former Bath and London Irish man said: “We spend a lot of time beating each other up on the training field, so when you get the chance to try something in a slightly different arena it is good banter and it all helps towards the great team spirit we have at the club.
“It is nice to be able to do something different in a great facility like the Beacon on Westgate Road. The lads really appreciate their role in the community and make a big effort on that side of things.”
Forced outside of his comfort zone, Hudson added: “I love being in the kitchen, but being an athlete means baking is not exactly my speciality.
“Over the past few years we have had a bit of craic with the lads where the most stupid or daftest player during the week’s training had to bake for the rest of the squad on a Friday.
“That means I have had a little practice, although nowhere near as much as Tim Swinson!”
With the Rugby Players’ Association the driving force behind the day, Hudson said: “The RPA are a phenomenal organisation and our rep Mandy Thompson up here does an amazing job.
“As well as helping the boys with any current issues they are also massive on career development for when the rugby is over and the support network they give us is fantastic.
“They really look after their players, and I don’t think we can totally appreciate the number of guys who will need support after they finish playing.
“The fact they have rebranded and founded the ‘Restart’ charity allows them to support players during illness and injury, and it is something very close to our hearts.” Focusing on Saturday’s 7pm kick-off, re-scheduled due to last month’s snow, Hudson added: “It is a funny one from a preparation point of view because we had done our homework with the intention of playing Cornish Pirates three weeks ago before the snow ruined that.
“They gave us a stiff test in very difficult conditions when we played them in Penzance in September, although I feel our game has moved on considerably from then.
“I am sure theirs has too, and it is all shaping up into a decent match.”
Should the Falcons win they would mathematically secure themselves a promotion play-off semi-final spot with six games left to go.