- Newcastle one step away from Heineken Cup dream
- Captain delighted for Falcons' supporters
Photo: Getty Images
Newcastle Falcons captain James Hudson admits he is a proud man to be leading his team out in this Sunday's LV= Cup Final against Gloucester.
Speaking pitch side at Kingston Park, the 29-year-old lock forward believes a cup final is just what the Falcons faithful deserve for their commitment to the club.
"It's been tough for these supporters at times this season, which makes it even more pleasing for this group of players," said Hudson.
"To give them a day out at a final is great and I hope they enjoy themselves. We would like to see as many people as possible make the trip to Sunday's game.
"It will be a big day for the north-east public as well as the club. The support has been fantastic this year both home and away.
"The number of people who have already bought tickets and who are going down on the bus is great. We, the players are so pleased that the fans have got a big day out at a final to go to and enjoy, because it's important that they are rewarded for the many hours they have spent on the terraces cheering us on," he added.
And with Sunday's victors rewarded with Heineken Cup rugby next season, there is a real sense of excitement reverberating around Kingston Park.
Hudson said: "The Heineken Cup is a huge dream. To get into the Heineken Cup would be huge for us going forward, but the main thing is that we’d love to win something as a club. It would be a huge reward to be involved in that European competition next year."
A place in next season's Heineken Cup could see the northeasterners welcome the likes of Toulon and Munster to Kingston Park, but Hudson is not getting carried away.
He said: "We didn’t put too many fixed goals on the season at the start of the year and it was probably something that wasn't spoken about. It’s easy to get carried away but we’ll sit down and look at ways we can win Sunday’s game."
Tane Tu'ipulotu secures place in final
The Falcons booked their place in the final thanks to a dramatic Tane Tu'ipulotu try deep into added time. Alan Tait's men triumphed 21-20 in the capital to end Harlequins 12 match unbeaten run on home soil, and Hudson admits it was proud night to be wearing the Falcons jersey.
"It was a big, big result away from home and we got back at about 5am on Saturday morning, but it was certainly made a lot easier with the win.
"In the last play of the game we held onto the ball very well and when we saw the space out wide, we moved the ball very, very well. It was a great passing move from Jimmy [Gopperth] and Alex [Tait] with Tane [Tu’ipulotu] finishing well.
"There was a huge number of fans right behind the posts and it was great to hear their celebrations."
Scenes of celebrations followed the game, with each Newcastle player making their way over to the Falcons fans gathered behind the posts, to shake hands and thank them for their support.
"Everyone was very happy in the changing room after the game," said Hudson.
"It was a tough game and we probably didn't do ourselves any favours in the first half, but we hung in there and we defended for our lives.
"In the end that is what took us through because the minute we scored the break-away try by Jimmy, I think everyone believed we could go and win the game. We took a lot of heat from the Quins at that point and you could see physically that they were pretty dead after that.
"Once we got in to that position I think the level of belief increased and we finished the game off," he said.
Hudson is delighted with team spirit ahead of the showpiece occasion, adding: "The atmosphere at the club has been great but we maybe haven’t had the luck we deserve this season. We’ve worked hard and now that hard work is starting to show with the way that we’re playing on the pitch.
"You can't underestimate how important that momentum is going into the rest of the season and that momentum is with us."
Tickets for the LV= Cup Final at Northampton Saints' Franklin's Gardens on Sunday, March 20 (kick-off 3.30pm) are still available to purchase via GloucesterRugby.co.uk or Newcastle-Falcons.co.uk.