NEWCASTLE FALCONS have launched a women’s team – and are hoping to secure a place in the Tyrrells Premier 15s.

Initially formed as an invitational side, with the intention of bringing together female players from across the North-East, the Falcons women’s team will play up to six matches during the 2019-20 season, using Kingston Park as their home ground.

The club will submit a formal application to the Rugby Football Union this season, in the aim of securing a place in the Tyrrells Premier 15s, the top-flight of women’s club rugby in this country.

The North-East is already represented in the competition by Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, but Falcons are hoping to join their regional neighbours in next season’s league structure.

“We would love to have women’s and girls’ teams representing the club,” said Newcastle Falcons chairman Semore Kurdi. “Our aim is to inspire female athletes and provide role models for girls participating in the sport, and as well as launching our new team we also intend to develop the women’s and girls’ game as a whole, including holding development sessions for girls.”

Former Newcastle front-rower Rob Vickers, who played more than 200 first-team games for the Falcons, has been appointed as head coach, providing experience and expertise on what it takes to achieve at the highest level in the club game.

Vickers will be working closely with Northumbria University as their head coach, and there is likely to be a heavy crossover between the Falcons women’s team and academic institutions. As well as working with Northumbria, Vickers is also keen to draw in players from other university and club teams.

“This is a hugely exciting project and I feel privileged to be part of it,” he said. “North-East England already has a huge reputation in the women’s game, with multiple England captains and Rugby World Cup winners coming from the area, and it’s great that the Falcons are so positive in embracing it.”

Newcastle Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards supports the initiative, and is hoping to see it expand in the future.

“Rugby has long prided itself on being an inclusive game, and having a women’s team at the Falcons is a natural extension of that,” said Richards.