Bates Returns To Kingston Park

Border Reivers head coach Steve Bates will return to Kingston Park next month, joining Newcastle Falcons as coaching and technical director. Following the Reivers’ last game (against The Ospreys on Saturday 12 May, kick-off 5:30pm), Bates will work under director of rugby John Fletcher, returning to the club where he spent eight seasons as first team coach between 1995 and 2003.Border Reivers head coach Steve Bates will return to Kingston Park next month, joining Newcastle Falcons as coaching and technical director.

Following the Reivers’ last game (against The Ospreys on Saturday 12 May, kick-off 5:30pm), Bates will work under director of rugby John Fletcher, returning to the club where he spent eight seasons as first team coach between 1995 and 2003.

During that time the Falcons gained promotion to the top flight, winning the Premiership at the first attempt in 1998 before lifting the domestic Cup in 2001, having also reached the final in 1999.

The former Wasps and England scrum half (44) has spent the last three seasons with Border Reivers as well as coaching Scotland A to last season’s Churchill Cup final, a campaign which included a victory over England Saxons.

Speaking after announcing Bates’ appointment, director of rugby John Fletcher said: “This is a very significant day for us.

“Steve is an innovative coach who I have long admired, and someone we know very well from his time with the club. Players who have worked with him have nothing but good things to say, and I believe he has a big contribution to make to the coaching team.

“His appointment was very much driven by myself from day one purely because I hold him in such high regard. I have felt for some time that we were one light on the coaching team, but was adamant that we would not rush in to an appointment until the right candidate became available.

“Having talked at length with Steve over a number of weeks I have no doubt that he is the right man to help take the club forward alongside myself, Peter Walton, Steve Black and Ian Peel. He shares our passion and vision for the future, so it is tremendously exciting to have him on board.”

With the Falcons and Bates having originally parted company back in March 2003, Fletcher insisted that history was no stumbling block when bringing him back to Kingston Park.

“What has happened in the past is totally irrelevant,” he said.

“I am in charge now, and I feel that Steve is the quality of person and coach who can help us fulfil our ambitions. He is a great thinker on the game, and there were no issues at all when I put his appointment to the board.”

Bates originally came to Newcastle alongside former Wasps colleague Rob Andrew back in 1995. A former teacher at Lord Wandsworth College, it was Bates who alerted the club to the talents of a young Jonny Wilkinson who was one of his pupils at the time, and was instrumental in attracting the fly half to Newcastle in the summer of 1997.

Having coached the Falcons to Premiership and Cup success, in March 2003 he departed the club, taking over from Tony Gilbert at Scottish side Border Reivers whom he helped reach the Heineken Cup. Throughout his time with Borders Bates has continued to live in Northumberland, and officially starts his new role with the Falcons on June 1.