Newcastle Thunder fold following relegation to leave League 1 in turmoil

Newcastle Thunder have folded following their relegation from the Championship in a major blow to rugby league in the north east.

The club say it is "not feasible to continue" after dropping down to League 1.

Founded as Gateshead Thunder in 1999, the club were taken over by Newcastle Falcons eight years ago and went full-time for the 2022 Championship season in an attempt to kick on.

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However, Newcastle reverted to part-time status this year and finished bottom of the table.

The club, who have confirmed they will fulfil all remaining player and staff contracts, follow London Skolars in withdrawing from League 1 to leave the third tier with just eight teams for the 2024 season as it stands.

"Growing rugby league in the north east was an incredible journey and we are all devastated that it did not work out," read a statement from Newcastle Thunder.

“Unfortunately, the impact of Covid-19, combined with the low levels of regional growth and development in the game, means it just isn’t feasible to continue.

“This was not the decision we wanted to make and we remain hopeful that we can find a new home for the team.”

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