Newcastle Falcons enjoyed a live training session against the Italian national team this morning (Monday) at Kingston Park Stadium.

The Azzurri are using the Falcons’ ground as a training base this week ahead of Friday’s Quilter International against England at St James’ Park (kick-off 7.45pm).

The session against the Italians lasted an hour and a half and included live full-contact scrummages, line-outs and mauls, with modified-contact back-line face-offs and a modified-contact 15-a-side game to finish.

Rugby World Cup referee Luke Pearce was on hand to officiate the exchanges, which were conducted in a full-blooded but sportsmanlike fashion.

Newcastle Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards said: “This was a really useful exercise both for ourselves and the Italian national team.

“We got through a good amount of work against full international opposition, and it was great to see some old friends on the Italian coaching staff such as Conor O’Shea and Mike Catt.

“They were fantastic to work with ahead of the session in terms of planning exactly how it would run so that both sides would get maximum benefit, and having a top international referee on hand was also extremely helpful.”

Newcastle Falcons’ season gets underway on Saturday September 21 when they travel to Jersey Reds in the Championship Cup, before their first home game against Doncaster Knights on Sunday September 29. Season ticket memberships for 2019-20 are available by calling 0871 226 6060.