Newcastle Falcons…Luc Jeannot

Hold on tight to your dream
Hold on tight to your dream
When you see the shadows falling
When you hear that cold wind calling
Hold on tight to your dream
Hold on tight to your dream
Hold on tight to your dream

ELO – Hold On Tight

Three days to go.

For many Cov supporters, the win at Coundon Road back in November 1996 against Newcastle Falcons ranks as one of the most memorable in the last 40 years of the club’s history.

Surprisingly though, no mention of it is made of it on the Falcons own website, although passing reference is made to the 1996/97 season:

(It) would be the club’s first as Newcastle Falcons, while also marking a change of home colours to black and white. That season saw the team rise through the second tier of English club rugby and clinch promotion to the Premiership, scoring masses of points on the way.

Which is true, of course.

Masses of points…

…but not against Cov that season, not at home at least.

What I had forgotten, and which makes Cov’s win all the more remarkable in many respects, is that:

The 1997/8 season was then to go down as arguably the biggest in the club’s history, as the all-star squad sensationally went on to lift the Allied Dunbar Premiership trophy in the first season back in the top flight.

Many of that Premiership winning squad faced Cov the previous November. It was a stunning win – one that is unlikely to ever be repeated these days given the money the Premiership now attracts. I’m not convinced that quite so many of their stars back then would have remained so loyal in the current era when the big money offers came in once relegation was confirmed at the end of last season…

…they certainly didn’t with Cov when the receivers came a-calling just over 12 months later.

Comparing the two Cov sides of then and now is one of those arguments best left for a long winter’s evening in the bar over a pint or two, but just how the side that beat Newcastle back then would fare against that of today remains an interesting discussion, albeit somewhat academic. Today’s side would almost certainly be fitter, bigger and better coached, but even so….?

Harris v Jennings, Eves v Wallace, Kilford v Stokes, Patten v Burrows, Dawson v Kessell – so many interesting match-ups…

One for another post perhaps.

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As an aside:

A couple of years later, in 1997/8, I’d gone up the day before the West Hartlepool game to make a weekend of it. We’d decided to go to the local cinema that evening to watch ‘Up ‘n Under’ , a rugby based comedy starring Brian Glover and, I think, Neil Morrissey amongst others (well worth a watch if it’s still available).

We walked into the particular Multiplex screen showing the film to find the entire Newcastle squad were already seated. Sitting in front of us, as in the row in front, was none other than Inga Tuigamala, who at the time Newcastle had paid a world record for.

Such was his size, much of the screen was blocked, but it hardly mattered…

It makes no difference if you’re 14 or 40.

Sitting in the company of legends like Inga is something you never ever forget.

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The news that Toby Flood has been cited for an alleged high tackle/neck roll came as something of a shock yesterday and if I’m honest, there was a certain amount of relief at the prospect of his absence on Sunday for a while afterwards. But then, on reflection, I decided I’d rather Cov beat a Newcastle Falcons side with Flood in the line-up than without him.

Cov supporters have been starved of seeing players of Flood’s class for too long so an opportunity to see a player of his ability in the opposition actually outweighs the potential damage he could cause us. And I imagine there’s another 10 waiting in the wings who is just as capable of running the game as effectively as he can.

And who would the likes of Peters, Wallace, Ram, Nayalo and Burrows prefer to face? I rather imagine putting in the big hits  on Flood is more of a motivation than against a relative unknown.

No, I think I’d rather Flood was in the side.

Those 5 points will seem all the sweeter for it.

(Lol…written before the news of Flood’s one week ban!)

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Luc Jeannot might well feature at some stage in Sunday’s game against Falcons.

He was recalled last week from Chinnor where he was on loan as a result of Toby Trinder’s return to Saints and (corrected…thanks, Graham) and whilst he didn’t get on against Doncaster, the chances are Cov supporters will see him in a Cov shirt before too long.

That said, Luc is a natural tight head, so I imagine playing in what is his second position, he is less likely to get the chance deputising for a loose head.

I think I’m right in saying Luc is the only Cov player from the very first group of Development/Academy players Rowland Winter recruited back in 2016/17 as yet to have been promoted into the first team squad and his rise into the first team squad is surely the success story in terms of youngsters progressing through the ranks at Coventry Rugby. Max Titchener still remains, too, and continue to impress in Nat 1 as does Sam McNulty.

At just 22, Luc is still very much learning his trade, but already he’s shown that he’s more than capable of holding his own at this level, as he did last season until an injured shoulder meant surgery and a lengthy rehab.

Luc was part of the St Joseph’s College (Ipswich) side that won the National Schoolboy Rugby Festival back in 2013 and reached the semi-final of the Nat West Schools’ Cup.

The pedigree is there for all to see..

But there’s a little more to it than that and it was only from chatting to Luc’s dad recently that I realised just what a star studied-side Luc was part of back then.

Take this photo, for instance:

Recognise the lad on his right?

It’s none other than Lewis Ludlum, now of England and Northampton Saints. Lewis was loaned out to Cov for a few games four season ago(?).

You’d be forgiven for not knowing the other youngster; I freely admit I didn’t.

It is in fact George Wacokecoke, now playing his rugby at, wait for it, Newcastle Falcons.

But it doesn’t stop there. Our very own Dan Lewis was also in that side…

As was Tom Emery (ex-Cov loanee), Karl Wilkins (Bezier), Ethan Waddleton (England 7s) and  Alex Moon (Saints – he left St Joseph’s at 15).

That’s some pool of talent!

And here’s the squad photo for that year:

Lewis Ludlum is front centre and then on his left it’s Dan Lewis, Ethan Waddleton and Karl Wilkins. George Wacokecoke is second along from Ludlum on the right. Tom Emery is on the second row, extreme right, and Luc is on the back row, second from the left.

 

The clip above is of the final of the 2013 National Schools Rugby Festival. Lewis Ludlam leads the team out, playing at 8.

Luc was a firm favourite by all accounts and even had his own crowd chant, sung to the tune of the old Pilot classic, ‘Magic’, apparently one of the more popular pitch-side refrains back then:

Woa ho ho he’s magic you know, you’ll never get past Luc Jeannot, he’s magic

Plenty of players in that side have become professional rugby players since, including Luc. Maybe it won’t be too long before we see Luc in the Premiership; wearing the blue and white hoops of course.

It’s a great story, but as yet one only half-told.

(Many thanks to Luc’s dad for the photos…

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The weather up in Newcastle this weekend doesn’t look great; pretty cold with a good chance of rain.

The one saving grace appears to be there’s little chance of the game being affected by strong winds which often turns the outcome into something of a lottery.

The conditions sound pretty similar to those Cov faced at Ealing a couple of weekends ago and they coped pretty well down there, so there shouldn’t be any need to worry unduly about the weather as far as the rugby is concerned.

If you’re a spectator maybe it will be a case of having to wrap up well, although there’s far more protection at Kingston than there is at the Trailfinders’ Sports Ground.

And playing on a synthetic surface won’t phase Cov as it might do a number of other Championship sides, so Falcons shouldn’t have quite the home advantage they’d normally enjoy.

They will have the largest crowd Cov will face this season though. With attendances averaging around the 4000 mark, it’s bound to be a fairly intimidating place to play but hopefully the players with Premiership experience will be able to lead by example if and when Cov find themselves with their backs to the wall. That’s when you hope the likes of Nayalo, Wallace, Burrows, Halaifonua, Purdy (?) and co really step up to the plate.

It’s going to be a tough afternoon for everyone involved, but after 8 competitive games this season there’s now a real belief that this Cov squad can and will give a good account of themselves against any side in this league, which is pretty much all one can ask of it.

When the shadows start to fall and the cold wind begins to call, well it really is time to hold on tight to your dreams:

When you see the shadows falling
When you hear that cold wind calling
Hold on tight to your dream
Hold on tight to your dream

 

Author: Tim

2 thoughts on “Newcastle Falcons…Luc Jeannot

  1. Ahhh…yes, that’s me being a bit sloppy. Thank you…will correct. Thanks, for leaving the comment. Really appreciated!!!! Will update!

  2. I thought Luc was brought back to cover Toby Tinder’s recall to Saints. Not sure how long that’s for, Gerard’s injury was a few weeks ago now. Just to note that Newcastle did score plenty of points against us at Kingston Park in ’97, as per JB’s article. I remember the game well, and hoping (expecting?) it doesn’t happen again on Sunday. Really enjoying read the blog again Tim, thanks. ‘Inga the winger’, what a player he was.

Any thoughts:

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