Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Final Countdown: The Facts about Club Rugby's Big Day

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Final Countdown: The Facts about Club Rugby's Big Day

Article excerpt

Newcastle are making their third trip to Twickenham for a final ( losing 19-29 to Wasps in 1999 and beating Harlequins 30-27 in 2001.

There are six survivors from the `99 final: Martin Shaw, Tom May, Jonny Wilkinson, Marius Hurter, Garath Archer and replacement Ian Peel.

Ten members of the Powergen Cup winning team of 2001 are still with the club: May, Wilkinson, Hurter and Peel, plus Dave Walder, Michael Stephenson, Jamie Noon, Micky Ward, Andrew Mower and Hugh Vyvyan. Tom May has not missed a Falcons cup tie since January 2000 against Moseley.

Newcastle have never lost a cup tie with Dave Walder in the team. He has made eight cup appearances since 1999-2000 scoring four cup tries and 71 points in the competition.

Sale have made only one appearance in a Twickenham cup final ( in 1997 they lost 3-9 to Leicester. The side that day was skippered by the current coach Jim Mallinder, with the only survivor from the Sharks' current squad being centre Jos Baxendell.

The only member of the current Sale squad to have won a cup winners' medal is Kevin Yates for Bath in 1996.

Bath have won the cup a staggering 10 times from ten final appearances. Seven other clubs have reached at least one final but not managed to carry off the trophy, Northampton doing so on three separate occasions.

Four of the last five successful skippers have been non-English: Newcastle's Doddie Weir in 2001, Ryan Strudwick in 2002 and Jake Boer last season to add to Mark Weedon in 1999; the exception being Lawrence Dallaglio for Wasps in 2000. Joel Stransky was the first overseas international to gain a Cup winners' medal in Leicester's 1997 victory over Sale.

Canadian Norm Hadley, the Wasps lock in 1995, was the first overseas international to play in a final, but Bristol wing MJW Dandy, 22 years previously, was the first then uncapped overseas player to go on and play test rugby, doing so for Canada in 1977.

Bristol's Ralph Knibbs is the youngest player to appear in a final when in 1983 he picked up a winner's medal against Leicester aged 18. Only two other finalists have still been 18 years of age on the day of the final ( Gareth Rees for Wasps in 1986 and John Goodwin for Moseley in 1982. …

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