Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Falcons Stars Are Released

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Falcons Stars Are Released

Article excerpt

Byline: By Duncan Madsen

Newcastle Falcons began to clear the decks today as they prepare to make key changes to their squad for next season.

After crashing out of the European Challenge Cup at the semi-final stage at home to London Irish on Sunday and with just two matches left of an under-performing Guinness Premiership season, Falcons boss Rob Andrew has revealed Dave Walder, Owen Finegan and Tino Paoletti have been released from the final year of their contracts.

Announcing their imminent departure, Andrew said: "We would like to thank all three players for their contribution to the club and we wish them well in the future."

Fly-half Walder, who turns 28 in a fortnight, was born in Gosforth and is the only Geordie in the trio.

He has made 93 competitive starts for the Falcons during his seven seasons at Kingston Park and is the joint all-time top points scorer in a Premiership match with 32 against Saracens in November 2000.

His Premiership points total of 497 leaves him just three short of the 500 mark.

However, Walder's biggest achievements came in the two winning cup finals of 2001 and 2004.

In the first he crossed for the winning try deep into injury time to enable the Falcons to pip Harlequins 30-27 in front of a 73,000 crowd.

In the second he kicked all four conversions and three penalties as Newcastle beat Sale Sharks 37-33 in another Twickenham thriller.

As a result of his exploits for his home-town club, Walder has won four full England caps.

Praising Walder and explaining the decision to release him, Andrew said: "Dave has enjoyed great days at the club and will always be remembered by the supporters for his vital contribution in winning the 2001 and 2004 Cup finals.

"However, with the emergence of Toby Flood as an outstanding young fly-half and the return to fitness of Jonny Wilkinson, realistically Dave's opportunities for game time are limited.

"For Dave to fulfil his own personal ambitions he needs to be playing regular first-team rugby and with that in mind the decision has been made to release him from the final year of his contract. …

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