Even though Newcastle won the first Premiership title of the professional era, they have since struggled to impose themselves as genuine title contenders in the league having never finished higher than sixth since 1998. We take a look at their statistical history in the Premiership.
Biggest win: A 56 – 10 thrashing of Rotherham back on 9th November 2003. The Falcons scored seven tries that day, with five-pointers from James Grindal, a hat-trick from Tom May, two from Jamie Noon and one from Matt Thompson.
Most tries: When Newcastle beat Bristol 50 – 8 back on 27th December 1997 they scored eight tries in total, a feat which they repeated on two other occasions: v London Irish on 11th January 1998 and again v Leeds on 6th May 2006.
Most penalty goals: On 1st September 2002 Newcastle defeated Wasps 24 – 17 at home thanks to eight penalties from the boot of none other than Jonny Wilkinson. They also defeated Leicester Tigers at home because of Australian fullback Matt Burke who cooly slotted over seven penalties.
Most consecutive games without defeat: Back when Newcastle were bankrolled by Newcastle United owner Sir John Hall, the Falcons’ team was full of world-class talent. It was their fantastic squad that saw them go 12 games without a loss between 23rd August 1997 and 10th March 1998. In comparison, their second best run is just six matches (September to November 2001).
Most consecutive games without a win: Newcastle have one of the worst records in the Premiership in terms of consecutive defeats. A run of 20 games without a win from 3rd November 2013 to 28th September 2014 (with a year in the Championship wedged inbetween) was a new low point for the club. They have also had losing streaks of 11 and 10 games in past seasons as well.
Most team wins in a season: Newcastle’s trophy-winning season of 1997/1998 saw them losing only 3 games out of 22 – a stunning winning percentage of 86.36%. The following season was not as impressive with the Falcons winning 14 of their 26 games or 53.84% of their matches. In 2000/01 the total had dropped to 11. Last season saw Newcastle winning just 5 games – their third ever lowest total.
Most matches: Utility back Tom May stuck with his club through thick-and-thin for ten years before heading off to Toulon in 2009. In that time he amassed 193 appearances, ahead of prop Micky Ward on 187. Current player Alex Tait is down in ninth position with 119 total matches, highlighting the issues that Newcastle have faced in recent years in terms of player retention.
Most tries: Tom May tops the list again with 47 tries, ahead of Jamie Noon on 37 and Gary Armstrong on 35. England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson is fifth on the list with 25 from 138 appearances. Who ever said he wasn’t an attacking player?
Most points in a season: In the early days of his career Jonny Wilkinson scored an astonishing 306 points from 25 games in the 1998/1999 season, including 9 tries, 51 conversions and 53 penalties. It is no wonder he was quickly promoted to the senior England side. New Zealander Jimmy Gopperth, now of Wasps, is in second place with 230 points from 22 games in the 2010/2011 season.
Most points in a match: Is it Wilkinson again? No! It’s actually fly-half Dave Walder who spent much of his career playing second-fiddle to the England maestro before heading off to Wasps and then Japan in the latter years of his career. Walder scored 32 points (2 tries, 2 conversions and 6 penalties) in a 32 – 27 win over Saracens on 26th November 2000. Wilkinson is in second place on 29. Walder is now Newcastle Falcons’ current attack coach.
Highest percentage of matches won: Dual international and British and Irish Lion Alan Tait won 17 of the 19 matches he featured in for Newcastle, giving him a winning percentage of 89.47%. Prop Paul van Zandvliet, a local man from North Shields, won 19 of the 22 games he played for Newcastle in the Premiership (86.36%). Dean Ryan played 30 games for the Falcons and won 23 of them (76.66%).
Local derby statistic: If we count Leeds as Newcastle’s nearest rival then Tom May is a derby hero. He scored four tries in eleven appearances against the Tykes, winning eight of those matches.
Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena