We continue our rundown of this season’s European Rugby Challenge Cup, with five-time semi-finalists Newcastle Falcons next on our agenda. 

Challenge Cup record 

The Gallagher Premiership side are yet to reach a Challenge Cup final but have enjoyed several good runs. They first reached the last four in 1997/98, when they were beaten 12-9 by Agen, and have gone on to make the semi-finals on four further occasions – most recently in 2018, when they lost 33-12 at Gloucester Rugby. 

Last season  

Newcastle successfully navigated the pool stage, a 33-20 home defeat to Cardiff Blues on the opening day being followed by a 26-17 success at Castres Olympique. They then overcame Ospreys 28-24 in Wales in a Round of 16 thriller, only to succumb 39-15 at Leicester Tigers in the quarter-finals. 

Director of rugby 

Dean Richards guided Leicester Tigers to back-to-back Heineken Cup titles in 2001 and 2002, and spent time in charge of Harlequins before joining as Newcastle’s director of rugby in 2012. A No.8 during his playing days, Richards spent the entirety of his club career at Tigers and represented England 48 times. 

Key players  

Vastly experienced full-back Mike Brown has joined from Harlequins, while the blossoming duo of Adam Radwan and Iwan Stephens will inject pace and energy on the wings. Back-row forward Carl Fearns is another experienced addition to the squad. 

Pool fixtures 

Newcastle host Worcester Warriors in their opening game in Pool A, before going on to face Biarritz Olympique away, RC Toulon away and Zebre Rugby at home respectively.