Prop crisis may force Newcastle to play Champions Cup tie with 14 men

Newcastle are facing the possibility of having to play the majority of Friday night’s European Champions Cup tie against Edinburgh with only 14 men, because of an injury crisis at tighthead prop.

They have named their squad to face Edinburgh with David Wilson picked to start at tighthead, despite fitness concerns over the former England international. Trevor Davison, who does have some experience of playing at tighthead, has been named on the bench but he, too, is an injury doubt. Newcastle said on Thursday that Jon Welsh, Craig Mitchell and Paul Mullen all suffered injuries in a 24-hour period this week.

If one of Wilson or Davison is fit to play but there is no tighthead cover on the bench, Newcastle would start with 15 men but would be reduced to 14 – and all subsequent scrums would be uncontested – if and when that player leaves the field, meaning if he were to pick up an early injury it would be disastrous.

Newcastle were on Thursday night trying to register another tighthead with the tournament organisers, European Professional Club Rugby, but if they are unsuccessful the club believe they could even have to take the unprecedented step of fielding a depleted team from the start at Murrayfield, with uncontested scrums taking place throughout.

As part of their team announcement Newcastle issued a statement in which their director of rugby, Dean Richards, said: “We are in dialogue with EPCR to try to resolve the issue and that communication will continue.”

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