Falcons part company with Fletcher & forwards coach

Newcastle announced Tuesday that director of rugby John Fletcher and forwards coach Peter Walton were leaving the English Premiership club by mutual consent.

Fletcher took charge at the north-east side in August 2006 after Rob Andrew left to become elite rugby director at the Rugby Football Union.

The Falcons, who’ve won six of their league matches this season but there is only the slimmest chance of them going down as they are 21 points ahead of basement side Leeds, who currently occupy the lone relegation spot.

They are also in the quarter-finals of the European Challenge Cup but that hasn’t been enough to keep Fletcher in his job.

Newcastle chairman Dave Thompson said: “I would like to place on record my thanks to John and Peter, and to wish them well for the future.

“Coaching and technical director Steve Bates will take charge of team affairs on an interim basis until the end of the season, assisted by Ian Peel.”

Bates rejoined Newcastle before this season started, with the former England scrum-half having been on Newcastle’s coaching staff during their 1997-98 Premiership-winning campaign and the 2001 English Cup triumph.

This season has also seen Bates become head coach of the England Saxons, the national A side, where he has enjoyed a 100 percent record so far.

Fletcher’s departure follows the December exit of fitness coach Steve Black, a mentor of star outside-half Jonny Wilkinson, and came on the same day as Wilkinson was dropped by England for the first time in nine years.



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