ALAN Tait was back at Kingston Park to take Newcastle Falcons’ training yesterday, but there was a new appointment to the management team with James Ponton arriving as academy head coach.
After a scheduled rest day on Monday, Tait was back on site with a business-as-usual mindset despite the continued uncertainty over his longer-term future.
Players and coaches held a lunchtime meeting, but the gathering was merely a scheduled debrief of Saturday’s 16-10 loss to Exeter as well as planning ahead for Sunday’s visit of Italian champions Petrarca Padova.
Tait and his coaching team then took afternoon training as normal, with no news from the club to suggest an imminent change at the top.
One man making his introductions to Kingston Park staff was Ponton, a Premiership flanker with Leeds and West Hartlepool in his playing days.
The 37-year-old will work alongside academy manager Mark Laycock in a new-look set-up following the departure of Richard Arnold.
Ponton, who has resigned his position as player-coach at Percy Park RFC with immediate effect, said: “I am over the moon to be on board and it is a great opportunity.
“There is huge talent in the North East and Cumbria, and the mission is to make them into Premiership rugby players for Newcastle who will stay here for a long time.”
Explaining the newly-bolstered set-up, Ponton added: “I will be working alongside Mark to head up the academy, with the aim of bringing local talent through and ultimately promoting it to the first-team.
“The Falcons have been quite successful at that in the past and it needs to be rekindled.
“Mark and I will work very well side by side but he will have the overall say on things.