A Ponteland teenager who has ambitions of playing for the senior England team has signed his first professional rugby contract.
Newcastle Falcons has announced that Callum Chick will join the club full-time on July 1. He will be part of the club’s Senior Academy.
Some of these players are regularly picked for the Falcons’ A squad – the level immediately below the senior team. The XV picked for each A-League game is often a combination of established first team players and emerging talent.
And Callum, who plays number eight, will be aiming to follow in the footsteps of Senior Academy players Simon Hammersley, Sean Robinson, Chris Harris and Tom Penny, who have made their Aviva Premiership debuts this season.
The 18-year-old has represented England at three age groups and he hopes that he will be able to continue his progress and reach the very highest level.
He said: “I am delighted to sign for Newcastle Falcons. It was a pretty easy decision because I’ve been a keen Falcons fan from a young age and have always wanted to run out for the team at Kingston Park.
“Hopefully, I will play in all or most of our A-League next season and I will then aim to become part of the senior squad.
“As I’m part of the England junior set-up, in the next five or six years my ultimate goal is to be selected for the England Saxons and then to progress from there into the main England squad and play in the major international tournaments.”
Callum started playing the sport at Ponteland Rugby Club from the age of seven and went through the various junior teams to under 16 level. His impressive performances earned him a place on the Northumberland School of Rugby programme.
After making an impact when playing for his county, Newcastle Falcons came calling when he was 15 and he went along to weekly junior academy training at Kingston Park. His first game for the Falcons’ under 16s was against a Scotland under 16s XV on a 3G surface at the Murrayfield rugby complex and many more appearances followed.
The former Ponteland High School student said: “Ponteland is a really good club for junior development and I’m grateful to all the coaches, including Andrew Moorby, Stu Taylor, Mike Shield and my dad (Brian Chick), for honing my rugby skills.
“I was a little bit nervous at first when I started training at Kingston Park, but I became more relaxed after a few weeks and was able to make good progress.”
Callum’s momentum continued into 2013, which became a very big year for him.
Following decent displays for the North region, he was selected for an England training camp and impressed enough to be chosen for the elite under 16s squad.
After playing a friendly and an international against Italy under 17s, Callum was man-of-the-match when England beat Wales under 16s 32-26 at Oxford University and he went on to be named England under 16 Player of the Year for 2013.
He is currently a member of the Gosforth Achieving Academic and Sporting Excellence (AASE) scheme, which enables talented players to have a structured timetable that balances rugby training and games and A-level studies, and like last season he has been playing in the both the AASE competition and for Newcastle Falcons’ under 18s team.
Last year, he stepped up to the England under 18s and he was a key part of the squad that won the FIRA/AER European Championship in April. There was another a proud moment at the end of the season when he captained an England under 17s side against France under 17s.
This season’s under 18s games against Wales and France take place soon and, all being well, Callum will be going on the squad’s tour of South Africa in the summer.
He added that he is grateful to school coach PJ Butler, Falcons Academy coaches Mark Laycock and James Ponton and the England junior coaches for their on-going role in his rugby development.