MEAT suppliers are suffering a bad time at the moment, but Newcastle Falcons scrum-half Rory Lawson’s phone has been off the hook as he helps his squad bulk up on carnivorous treats.
“I have very good deals on at the moment,” proclaimed the 31-times-capped Scotland scrum-half, running five minutes late for his media duties due to the sheer size of the consignment ordered on behalf of his Newcastle team-mates.
The hours which followed saw a steady stream of tweets from his fellow Falcons, sharing photos of their deliveries in scenes reminiscent of a Sunday night meat raffle at the local working man’s club.
“I have a very good local butcher and I won’t be beaten on quality,” he said with a smile before getting down to the serious business of tomorrow’s Championship trip to Leeds.
Well, not quite Leeds, given the Yorkshire club’s decision to move the game to Otley for pitch-protection purposes at their recently-re-laid Headingley base.
“I have to say it incentivises getting back into the Premiership,” admitted Lawson, facing the latest in a long line of weird and wonderful venues in what he hopes will be a brief flirtation with second-tier rugby.
“There are tough challenges every week for us in this division and if there are guys who need their ego stroking then the Championship is not the place to be.
“Thankfully for us we have nobody like that.
“We have a bunch of players who are determined, who want to put the work in and get the results.
“Most of the guys won’t have played at Otley before, but we are aware of what we will find down there with the pitch and all the rest of it.
“You just play the conditions as best you can and tomorrow will be no different.”
Already 12 points clear of their nearest rivals and with a game still in hand, the unbeaten Championship leaders have made just two changes from the XV which survived the Welsh mud during last week’s 34-3 victory at Cross Keys.
Lawson is one of those two, drafted back into the starting line-up after impressing from the bench at a rain-soaked Pandy Park.
He takes the place of Warren Fury, the only other change being the return of Samoan international No 8 Taiasina Tu’ifua in place of Ollie Stedman, who marked his debut last week with a try in helping the Falcons secure home advantage for their British and Irish Cup quarter-final.
Ally Hogg returns to the bench after a spell on the sidelines, Lawson insisting the forward battle will again be key.
He said: “The pack are aware the set-piece pattern is where it all begins.
“From there it is all about backs and forwards working together to punch holes in areas where they are vulnerable and to pick holes in every side through the analysis work you do during the week.”
Leeds are without former Falcons fly-half Rory Clegg after parent club Harlequins recalled him from his loan deal, the Barnard Castle School old boy sitting on the Londoners’ bench this evening when Wasps visit the Twickenham Stoop.
Newcastle and Leeds also meet in under-18s action this weekend, with Gosforth RFC’s Druid Park hosting an academy match between the two clubs at 11.30 today.
Meanwhile, Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards (pictured far left) and forwards coach John Wells (near left) have been inducted into the Premiership Rugby Hall of Fame.
The pair attended a star-studded dinner at London’s Hurlingham Club to formally accept their nominations, having steered Leicester Tigers to four consecutive league titles.
Richards said: “It was quite a surprise to be nominated, but pleasing all the same.
“It’s a bit of a who’s who of OAP rugby and the next time we meet will be in an old people’s home.
“It is nice to see old friends and catch up with others. The older you are, the better you were!”
Pat Lam, a key member of Newcastle’s 1997-8 title-winning squad, was also inducted.
NEWCASTLE FALCONS: T Catterick, A Higgins, A Crockett, J Helleur, R Shortland, J Gopperth, R Lawson; J Golding, R Vickers, O Tomaszczyk, J Hudson, S MacLeod, M Wilson, W Welch (captain), T Tu’ifua. Replacements: M Thompson, J Hall, J Goode, A Hogg, W Fury, J Hodgson, S Hufanga.
LEEDS CARNEGIE: S McColl, C Georgiou, O Goss, F Burdon, D Doherty, J Ford, C Hampson; B Harris, P Nilsen, D Tussac, C Green, M Myerscough, R Baldwin, J Rowan (captain), R Burrows. Replacements: S Freer, L Imiolek, J Currie, M Smith, D Moon, O Frost, P Lucock.
Kick-off: Tomorrow, 12pm
Referee: D Gamage