Picture Credit: Simon Uzokwe Facebook

University of Sunderland pharmacy student Simon Uzokwe capped a fantastic start to the year with a try scoring European debut in a week where he signed an extension to his contract with Newcastle Falcons.

Flanker Uzokwe, in his final year of a pharmacy degree at the University of Sunderland, made his first start for Newcastle Falcons in Saturday’s 64-7 demolition of Russian side Enisei-STM in the European Challenge Cup at Kingston Park.

The 10-try win secures Falcons a place in the quarter-finals of the European Challenge Cup and Uzokwe, who scored the third try, told SportsByte: “I was happy with how I played and it’s always nice to score a try. The team played really well and professionally, scoring the 10 tries to secure a home quarter final.”

Uzokwe’s try was preceded by tries from Tom Penny and Joel Hodgson, who would go on to score a second try, while Glen Young, Adam Radwan, who scored a hat-trick, Zach Kibirige and Tom Burrows added to the scoreline later in the game.

Toby Flood and Hodgson kicked three and four conversions respectively to hand the Falcons a dominant victory and the much sought after home quarter-final.

Uzokwe’s performance comes after it was announced he had signed a new long-term extension with Falcons earlier in the week. The 23-year-old has been a member of Falcons’ senior academy since 2016, joining following an impressive spell with Darlington Mowden Park, who he had represented while studying at the university.

Uzokwe told SportsByte: “I am over the moon to sign the extension. It gives me a chance to complete my degree and then focus on my rugby afterwards.”

The forward, who has been capped at England Students level, had scored two tries earlier in the season on his first team debut against London Wasps in the Anglo-Welsh Cup and is hungry for more opportunities moving forward.

He said: “For the rest of the season, I would like to get involved in as many games as possible and continue to learn from the senior players. Eventually I would like to break into the first team squad and start playing in the Aviva Premiership.”

Upon signing his new deal academy manager Simon Haycock told Premiership Rugby: “Simon has a year left on his pharmacy degree at Sunderland University and is working very hard on his transition to the back row, having previously played hooker.

“He is learning a huge amount every day from guys like Nili Latu, and it is a big challenge which he is taking in his stride. Simon is showing a great deal of maturity and has plenty to offer in attack which is his real point of difference, as he showed by scoring two tries on his first team debut at Wasps this season.”

He added: “He is also working incredibly hard to be a more complete player, and it’s great that he will be remaining with us.”