Gary Gold given Premiership’s toughest task

South Africa’s Gary Gold has been given one of the hardest jobs in English rugby after being put in charge at bottom of the Premiership Newcastle Falcons.

The north-east side are facing relegation from the top flight, as only one team goes down at the end of the season, and Newcastle are currently nine points adrift of second-bottom Wasps.

Director of rugby Gold, who will have ex-England defence coach Mike Ford — looking to restore his reputation after the Red Rose’s embarrassing World Cup campaign in New Zealand — alongside him.

The pair have nine games in which to keep Newcastle in the Premiership.

Gold and Ford were appointed after Newcastle announced head coach Alan Tait, the former Scotland international, had “taken a break from rugby”.

For the past four years Gold has been the assistant coach of South Africa and helped the Springboks to a memorable 2-1 win over the British and Irish Lions in 2009 before working under Peter de Villiers at the World Cup.

Gold also has Premiership experience, having been head coach of London Irish during a three-year spell with the Exiles before returning to South Africa, firstly as techical director of Cape Town Super franchise the Stormers and then as head coach of Western Province.

“This is an exciting challenge, and I am delighted to have the opportunity to work in the Premiership,” Gold said

“I know a lot about the players and the traditions of the club, so I am really looking forward to the challenge of keeping top-flight rugby in the north-east,” added Gold.

Newcastle, the club where England great Jonny Wilkinson made his name and who were Premiership champions in 1998, have also brought in Ford to bolster their backroom staff.

“I would like to welcome Gary and Mike to the club,” said Newcastle owner Semore Kurdi.

“They will be a great asset alongside the existing coaching team, and this is a demonstration of our intent to fight back and secure our Premiership status.”

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