Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

There's No Time to Basque for Falcons on Flying Visit

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

There's No Time to Basque for Falcons on Flying Visit

Article excerpt

Byline: RUGBY UNION Like us on Facebook TRY TIME Rugby talk with MARK SMITH

READING too much into pre-season games is an occupation of the insane, but I will doubtless be falling into the familiar trap tomorrow when Newcastle Falcons run out in the Basque country.

Spending today meandering my own way down to France's south western Atlantic coast via Paris to get a avour of the feeling around tomorrow's 7pm (UKtime) kick-oagainst Bayonne, Dean Richards and his charges are opting instead for the smash-and-grab approach.

Only touching down on French soil (not that the Basques would thank me for calling it that) tomorrow afternoon and returning straight home before sunset on their chartered plane, their whistlestop tour will be a rst glimpse of what the new season can provide in the 15-a-side format.

Bayonne certainly oers a fascinating and illuminating backdrop for the contest, the austere concrete slopes of their 14,000-capacity Stade Jean Dauger belying what remains a febrile and primitive appetite for the oval-ball game here.

e perennial under-achievers of the French scene might have a budget to dwarf anything seen in the English Premiership, but they only clung on to top-ight status last term by a whisker.

e relegation of big-spending neighbours Biarritz added articial sheen to a poor season, but Aviron Bayonnais, as they are known locally, are not a force to be taken lightly.

Coached by hard-nosed Australian and Argentinian dual-international prop Patricio Noriega, the three-time French champions boast a squad including Australian campaigner Mark Chisholm, former All Black try machine Joe Rokocoko and bullocking South African fullback Scott Spedding.

As with so many Top 14 clubs it seems slim pickings when it comes to French talent, but this itinerant collective of foreign labour should provide Newcastle with a decent barometer of where they are at.

is city of around 44,000 inhabitants is only just about recovering from the Fetes de Bayonne, a huge ve-day carnival of bullghting and imbibing in which tens of thousands of revellers don trademark white regalia and red neckerchiefs. …

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