Newcastle Falcons appoint Gary Gold as rugby director as Alan Tait ‘takes a break’

ROCK-BOTTOM Newcastle Falcons have appointed South African Gary Gold as their rugby director for the rest of this season after head coach Alan Tait decided to “take a break from rugby”.

And former England defence coach Mike Ford will join Gold by filling the defence role at Kingston Park, Newcastle owner Semore Kurdi announced on the club’s official website.

Newcastle currently prop up the Aviva Premiership table, nine points adrift of 11th-placed Wasps. Tait has won only six out of 36 Premiership games since he took charge.

Forwards coach Paul Moriarty will take charge for Sunday’s Amlin Challenge Cup home game against Italian side Petrarca, Kurdi confirmed.

Gold, whose previous Premiership coaching experience includes a spell at London Irish, has been assistant coach of the South African national team for the past four years.

Ford, meanwhile, joined the England set-up in 2008, but he recently departed Twickenham following a dismal World Cup campaign that also ended in manager Martin Johnson and assistant coaches John Wells and Brian Smith leaving.

Newcastle, Premiership champions in 1998, are red-hot favourites to be relegated this season, having won just two of their 13 league games, drawn one and lost 10.

Although Tait is effectively on gardening leave, the rest of Falcons’ existing coaching staff will continue to support Gold and Ford.

Kurdi said: “I would like to welcome Gary and Mike to the club.

“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.”

Newcastle say Gold decided to join the Falcons ahead of “a number of other exciting job offers”.

Five of Newcastle’s remaining nine league games are away from home, including trips to Leicester, Gloucester and Bath, while their Kingston Park fixtures feature appointments with current top two Harlequins and Saracens.

Read more reaction to the changes at Kingston Park in tomorrow’s Sportmail.