We are three quarters of the way through the season, the best season that we have had for a very long time, and we can actually dream about finishing in the top half of the table. We really should expect to harvest points from three of our six remaining games, possibly more, so can we really look forward to Heineken Cup, sorry that should be Champions Cup rugby?
As things stand we are just 12 points away from a top four finish. That is pretty meaningless of course but we are only 3 points away from top six. Champions Cup rugby would of course be a fantastic achievement, but would it actually be good for our club? Are we ready for it? A lot of what happens during the last quarter of the season does of course depend on the performance of the teams above us in the table, but with the games that we have left it is quite realistic that we could finish in the top six, or would we be better off finishing seventh, almost as good but without the prize of Champions Cup rugby?
I don’t think any of us would want to see us getting thumped in the Champions Cup next season. To be in a league in which you are not strong enough to compete is a depressing experience. It also impacts upon the Premiership, because if we have the extra strain upon our first team players, something has to give. Just adding players to our squad is not the answer. It takes time, a lot of time, to build a team that works, with a bench that adds impact, and players of equal quality to cover the injury season. That pretty much describes the state that we are in now, and it has been a hard old slog to get this far. The result is that we now enjoy mid-table status. You cannot seriously expect to add six highly competitive games against the best teams in Europe to our season without the wheels coming off in one way or another.
On the other hand of course, Champions Cup rugby is a major factor in attracting quality players to the club. We would get some top quality cup games at Kingston Park, and superb European adventures for the travelling supporters. Considering how much you have to spend to compete in the Cup, the finances are disappointing to say the least. I am sure there used to be a generous financial reward just for competing in the old Heineken Cup. That is certainly not so for its replacement, with only increased gate income, and possibly some extra revenue from increased exposure for advertisers and sponsors to help pay towards the costs of bolstering the squad. Winning the blessed thing brings a hefty reward, but just taking part can be a financial burden. If we can raise the necessary dosh however and actually compete reasonably well there will be other rewards, the increased exposure and awareness of Newcastle Falcons will give the marketing team some excellent ammunition. We also have to bear in mind that if we want to progress as a club then we will have to face this jump at some point, so it may as well be now.
I have no idea, I really am at sixes and sevens about whether it would be better to finish sixth or seventh, but after so many years of finishing tenth, eleventh or worse, I am very pleased to have this dilemma to think about.
A reminder that 7th would mean we get a playoff spot if an English club wins the Challenge Cup. Which would mean a bit of end of season fun even if we don't win!
But otherwise I agree with Monkey, I think we're a season too early for the big leagues. Would much rather see us put a cup run together to play in the challenge cup final, hopefully at KP!
Go for it, this may never happen again, for all we know god forbid we could be in a relegation battle next season.
This is a fantastic opportunity for this small club to compete on the world stage, guys like Mermoz, matavasi, DTH can see that. With the depth we are building I have no doubt we can give all the home games a good crack.
With dissapointing gates in the challenge cup of only 3,000. The prospect of getting 10,000 people in KP to watch a team like Toulon or Munster play is to good an opportunity to turn down. Not only that but it would be a great learning curve for many of these players who have never played in the competition. It would be a great experience for them and us as supporters.
More people will want to be part of the Falcons,
A great example of this would be Connacht,
When they luckily found their way into the Heineken cup they got a right pasting of teams like Toulouse but generally competed well in other games, they only won 1 pool game, but in the long term, it grew Connacht as a club and the support for the side grew massively! Not only that but it attracted quality like mills muliaina, dan parks, bundee Aki and Tom Mcartney, it really put them on the rugby map and from there they have only kicked on. They won the PRO12 last season.
With the signings we are making and if we retain certain guys I have no doubt we can give it a good go!
Weird that you should say that FF07, but it was actually Connacht that I had at the back of my mind when I was mulling over the idea that we will have to face it at some point or other, and if we want to improve the club there is no point in putting it off.
My own gut feeling is that we should go for it & stuff the consequences, but common sense says we are not quite there yet.
Then again, will we ever be quite there, or will we be saying the same thing next season?
Close eyes, dive in, make as big a splash as you can.
If I remember correctly, we weren't expected to get far last time we qualified for the Heineken in the early 2000's, but we went and surprised everyone by beating Perpignan, then a leading light in the Top 14 to qualify for the quarter finals resulting in an epic weekend in Paris.
If we qualify for the Champions Cup, we'll definitely be the underdogs in whatever group we find ourselves and that might just suit us.
Plus, fingers crossed, if Newcastle is chosen for the 2018 final, the Falcons playing in the competition would provide an epic boost for both the club and northern rugby.
I don’t think any of us would want to see us getting thumped in the Champions Cup next season.
We were thumped away at Ospreys and Lyon in the Challenge Cup this season - might as well get thumped by them in the Champions Cup, the games would be on TV and we might get an extra tenner from sponsors and more exposure.
falconsfan07 Go for it, this may never happen again, for all we know god forbid we could be in a relegation battle next season.
This is the big thing for me. I remember a couple of years ago when Bristol City were challenging for promotion to the football Premier League, and a fan of theirs was asked by a radio phone-on presenter "Is it too soon for you to go up?". They didn't go up, and are currently one spot above relegation down to the third tier. Maybe they'd have been tonked most weeks in the Premier League, but it'd have been a good adventure, and now it looks like their chance has gone, at least for another few years.
Say the Falcons do have the chance to get 6th this season and get Toulon, Munster and Clermont at KP: if it doesn't happen, how long might it be before we get the chance again?
I've always been an it's too early, give it another year kind of a guy. Have now totally changed my mind and say go for it. Imagine getting the chance to go to Toulon for a weekend watching the boys. We may get spanked but we may never get the chance to get spanked for quite a while with other clubs building heavily too.
You never know, we may surprise a few people, we're more than capable on our day.
Although we've recruited well so far, imagine what a selling point that would be to a potential player.
At start of season I reckoned finishing top of the bottom, ie 7th, would be good because I doubted if we would be ready for Championship Cup. But swept along by our success and signings, I now reckon we are ready to step up. So, bring it on.
There have been times in the past where accusations have been levelled at the club for not having ambition and if we, collectively players and supporters, were to be happy with seeing out the rest of the season aiming to stay around 8th I would be mightily annoyed.
We, again collectively, need to go for it. There is no real chance of relegation although still mathematically possible, so we give it everything for the remaining games.
We might get there, we might not and we might even look back a rue the day the defence allowed Sarries to score in the last play at KP, or the missed DG attempt by Joel agains Tigers as we fail by the narrowest of margins. I'm looking forward to the roller coaster ride to the end of what has been a moderately successful season for the Falcons.
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