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Falcons Quartet Gets England Call

30 July 2004

Newcastle Falcons have had four players named in the various England squads today, with three-quarter Mathew Tait being included in the senior national academy group at the age of only 18.

Fly half Jonny Wilkinson and centre Jamie Noon are named in the senior elite player squad, while back row Phil Dowson makes the Sevens squad.

Tait, who is in the senior academy squad, finds himself alongside England caps such as Olly Barkley and Chris Jones, despite having only played a single game at senior level.

That one game saw him score a spectacular try against London Irish, and a delighted Tait said on hearing news of his call-up: "It's a shock really, and I wasn't expecting it.

"I knew that I hadn't been named in the junior national academy, but I didn't expect to go straight into the senior squad. I'll just try and do my best when I'm there."

Tait has just completed his A-Levels at Barnard Castle School in County Durham, and has been adapting to full-time training since the Falcons started pre-season four weeks ago.

"It's been going really well, he said. It's a lot different to what I've done before, so there are a few aches and pains from training every day, but I've been really enjoying it and getting a lot out of it."

Speaking on the selections in general, Newcastle Falcons director of rugby Rob Andrew said: "I'm obviously delighted for Jonny and Jamie Noon to have been named in the elite squad.

"They both deserve it. Jonny, you would expect to figure in the upcoming Tests, and Jamie was very unlucky not to go on the summer tour to New Zealand and Australia, as he's been outstanding for two years or so now.

"I'm disappointed for some of the other players who could feature, like Dave Walder, Mike Stephenson and Tom May.

"Phil Dowson has done well with the England Sevens side, and it's good to see him getting the recognition for that by being named in the squad.

"I'm also delighted for Mathew Tait at being named in the senior academy squad.

"We Just need to make sure that he's developed properly and looked after in the right way - not pushed too quickly too soon. We managed Jonny that way in his first year here, and we'll do the same with Mathew."