The Newcastle Falcons fell to their first Heineken Champions Cup defeat of the campaign thus far as they came out on the wrong end of a 31-13 scoreline against Edinburgh at Murrayfield.
The Falcons’ preparations in the build-up to this game were less than ideal, to say the least.
A tighthead injury crisis resulted in Dean Richards’ side naming just a 22-man squad for Friday night’s encounter.
Originally, the Falcons named two looseheads on the bench, such was the problem when they named their team earlier this week. However, David Wilson who was named to start at tighthead had to pull out of the game which led to Sam Lockwood being parachuted into the starting XV to play on the right-hand side of the scrum, despite being a loosehead.
To make matters worse, Trevor Davison, who was named on the bench, was also ruled out through injury at a late stage which meant that Sami Mavinga had to cover both positions on the bench.
The Falcons made a request to the EPCR to have tighthead Jack Payne registered in the European squad so that he could be eligible to play in tonight’s game but the club confirmed that they were “not permitted to do so”.
Some late team changes. Sam Lockwood starts at 3, Sami Mavinga wears 18 and we have no number 17. We have been in dialogue with EPCR to register an additional prop in Jack Payne for more than a day, but regrettably we have not been permitted to so.
— Newcastle Falcons (@FalconsRugby) December 7, 2018
This led to the Falcons having just seven replacements and Richards, speaking to BT Sport after the game, aired his displeasure, according to Will Kelleher of the Daily Mail.
Dean Richards on telly – on the potential sanction from EPCR after Newcastle’s prop crisis meant they couldn’t field a full squad “I don’t give a toss. I’m incredibly disappointed in EPCR.” #Newcastle #Edinburgh
— Will Kelleher (@willgkelleher) December 7, 2018
The Falcons director of rugby said post-game: “You lose three tighthead props in 24 hours, you ask for dispensation to bring in another one and you’re not allowed that so you have to play a loosehead on the tight.
“It’s not like playing a left wing on the right wing or an inside centre at outside centre. There is a safety issue there and they weren’t prepared to address it so I was particularly disappointed with it.”