Newcastle Falcons are setting their sights higher than the pattern of struggle that has accompanied their recent forays into the Aviva Premiership, according to Tom Catterick.
The full-back is among the players currently getting stuck into their fourth week of pre-season training, Newcastle’s last three Premiership seasons having seen them plugged in the bottom two of the division.
“On the first two days back when we had our meetings, everybody agreed just to draw a line under last season,” said the 23-year-old, whose side avoided the drop last time round despite losing their last 16 league games.
“We did not quite do as well as we could have, but towards the end we played some decent rugby.
“There are positives to draw from it, and we achieved our goal of staying up in the Premiership.
“Now is the time we need to be moving on from that, and to really push people.
“This is a club which needs to be about more than just staying up, and we can go higher than that.”
Expanding on his theme when asked what the realistic aims are for a club which has not finished in the top half of the division since 2002, Catterick said: “We have not actually sat down as a group and put a number on what the goal is this season, but from my own perspective I just don’t want to be in that bottom two again.
“We don’t even want to be thinking about relegation when we get to that closing part of the season, and it is all about pushing as high as we can.
“We are realistic with it and I am not saying we are going to win the Premiership, but if we push everyone to the max we are capable of much more.”
The Falcons begin their season at Leicester Tigers on Saturday September 6, a ground at which they have not won since 1998, and after a trio of pre-season friendlies. Director of rugby Dean Richards’ side are at French club Bayonne for their summer opener on Thursday August 7 before hosting Championship semi-finalists Rotherham on Saturday August 23, ending their run of friendlies against Edinburgh in Hawick on Friday August 29.
Among their coaching team for the coming campaign is former England fly-half Dave Walder, a man who helped the club to a pair of Twickenham Cup final wins before going on to domestic and European glory with London Wasps.
Impressed with what the new attack coach has brought to the table even so early into the summer, Catterick said: “With Dave coming on board there has been fresh input and enthusiasm, and people are happy about that.
“Everyone is pretty positive around the club, and Dave is a big part of that.
“He is still quite a young guy and is very easy to talk to.
“He knows lots about rugby in general and this club in particular, so it is always nice to have someone of that quality and experience to tap into.”
Meanwhile, Suzuki Wailers are among the contenders for the ‘7s and the City’ crown at Saracens’ Allianz Park home on Saturday. Led by Westoe’s director of rugby Andy Howells and containing a number of North East players, the Wailers go into the competition fresh from a tournament victory in the GB7s at Colwyn Bay.
The Wailers will compete with other top invitational sevens sides for the right to face the national sides of England, Wales, Kenya and Scotland, as they finalise their preparations for the Commonwealth Games.
Saturday also sees Seghill RFC hosting the fourth leg of the Alnwick Rum Northumberland Sevens Series, currently led by Tynedale RFC, who have Percy Park and Novos in close pursuit.