Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Falcons Could Be Sent to Siberia in Euro Shambles; RUGBY UNION like Us on Facebook TRY TIME Rugby Talk with MARK SMITH

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Falcons Could Be Sent to Siberia in Euro Shambles; RUGBY UNION like Us on Facebook TRY TIME Rugby Talk with MARK SMITH

Article excerpt

Byline: MARK SMITH

NEWCASTLE Falcons could be sent to Siberia when the new Rugby Challenge Cup kicks off in October.

Dean Richards' well-travelled team already know they are drawn against Parisian outfit Stade Francais and Welsh battlers Newport Gwent Dragons, but the identity of their final group foes has been shrouded in more mystery than an Agatha Christie novel.

Even at the official draw in Switzerland their last opponent was simply labelled "Qualifier 2", but details of the process are slowly beginning to trickle out as bungling tournament organisers fly by the seat of their pants.

Last week's Rugby Europe general assembly in the Croatian city of Split saw the qualification map laid out, and Russian champions Krasny-Yar could be on the cards.

Playing their rugby in Krasnoyarsk, the third-largest city in Siberia where average winter temperatures drop to minus 19 degrees celsius, Krasny-Yar are tipped to be the Russian representatives when they line up over two legs against a Romanian team on September 6 and 13.

'Yar',' as they are known, are not a side to be taken lightly, given a reputed playing budget of PS2m and a link-up with Kiwi provincial powerhouses Canterbury, not to mention a fair percentage of the Russian national side.

The identity of the Romanian entrant is yet to be established, the Falcons having last season travelled to Bucharest to take on a composite 'Wolves' team made up of the best club players in the country under former Wales coach Lynn Howells.

Romanian champions RCM Timisoara, who are coached by South African World Cup winner Chester Williams, have been quick to throw their hat in the ring to take up the challenge, but are waiting to hear from their national federation as to whether or not they will be given the chance.

The aggregate winner between the Russian and Romanian side will then face a two-legged play-off against Italian champions Calvisano on September 20 and 27, the overall victor of that making it safely through to the Rugby Challenge Cup group stage. …

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