Visitors from Spain will be offering a continental flavour to the weekend’s rugby schedule as they make the return leg of an exchange programme with Durham and Northumberland.
The Spanish Rugby Union’s delegation arrived last night to watch training at Gosforth RFC, where they were guests at a Referees’ Society meeting, and will today visit Newcastle Falcons to learn about player development. The intiative is part of the legacy programme for next year’s Rugby World Cup and follows December’s visit of a North East group to the Spanish city of Valladolid.
The tourists’ schedule sees them taking in tomorrow’s National One crunch tie between Tynedale and Cinderford, following a meeting about the role of volunteers in rugby, before a packed programme of junior action on Sunday.
Among the travelling group are Igananacio Gonzalez Davilla (vice-president of the Spanish Rugby Union), Rodrigo Bernal (manager of the national sevens team), Mar Alvarez (national team conditioner and manager of the under-19s side) and representatives of Spanish club and regional teams.
Andy Thompson, chairman of the Northumberland Rugby Union, said: “It is a two to three- year project and is a great opportunity for both sides to learn from one another.”
Having visited central Spain earlier in the season, Thomson added: “I was part of that scoping visit with Malcolm Jarvie and Jim Couldon from Northumberland, Robin Wannop and John Denham from Durham and Freddie Cruz from Newcastle University.
“Freddie is studying European business and is a Spanish speaker who plays for Newcastle University, so he was a big help and it was a great experience going over there.
“That was just before Christmas, the people were wonderful there and the volunteers were so enthusiastic.
“They are developing better referees, better coaching and things like that, and seeing that in action gave us a better idea of how we can tailor their visit to the North East so they get the most out of it.”
Meanwhile, Newcastle Falcons flanker Richard Mayhew has signed a new two-year deal to remain with the Kingston Park club.
The 28-year-old Kiwi has made seven starts for the Falcons this season.
He said: “We have a good core of players at the moment with a mixture of both youth and experience and I am delighted to have committed my future to the club.”