It’s vital for Falcons to make a Premiership return

The Northern Echo: ENGLAND CALLING: Toby Flood, with Owen Farrell and Jonathan Joseph ENGLAND CALLING: Toby Flood, with Owen Farrell and Jonathan Joseph

NEWCASTLE’S failure to bounce back with immediate promotion would be England’s loss, according to Red Rose fly-half Toby Flood, who has urged the Falcons to beware of the play-off pitfalls.

Flood, who spent five years at Kingston Park before moving to Leicester, is one of a host of current internationals to come off the Newcastle conveyor belt.

Jonny Wilkinson remains Newcastle’s most successful export but Geoff Parling, David Wilson, Lee Dickson, Mathew Tait and Tim Visser are all former Falcons now flying high.

Following London Welsh’s successful appeal, Newcastle were condemned to a year in the Championship but are soaring at the top of the division having secured ex-Scotland captain Rory Lawson and kept New Zealand flyhalf Jimmy Gopperth.

And Flood, 27, believes the sooner they are back the better, if rugby is to continue to thrive in the North-East.

“Hopefully for Newcastle with the stability they have got there with the coaching staff, it is all looking very rosy for them and they can come back up and establish themselves back in the Aviva Premiership,” said Flood, representing the England team for Marriott Hotels & Resorts, official partner of the RFU.

“It is crucial for the area because the North-East needs to be back as a rugby union area.

“You only have to look at the number of players that have come through that system to see how important it is.

“Just look at the current England squad and you have got myself, Lee Dickson, David Wilson, Geoff Parling, Mathew Tait, Tim Visser for Scotland – there are loads of Newcastle Falcons guys who have come through.

“And I think the importance of having a club, a focal point to play their rugby and go on and become elite players in that area is so important and the younger generation coming through to have something to aspire to.”

The Falcons are top of the Championship by 12 points and have a game in hand on second-placed Nottingham but promotion is far from guaranteed with a play-off system deciding who will be promoted.

Bristol have found that out to their cost in recent years, topping the regular season table to only see London Welsh last year and Exeter in 2010 clinch promotion.

But Flood is convinced that with Dean Richards at the helm, the Falcons can see promotion through.

He added: “They are picking up results and doing well and if it was just a league then there would be no doubt they would come back up but now with this play-off structure you only have to look at what London Welsh did last season and Exeter before them that anything can happen.

“It is a big ask but it looks like they are going to do it and fingers crossed because as I have just proven, it can really benefit the country as a whole.”

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