Falcons sign Botham
May 11, 2000

Newcastle have swooped to sign Cardiff and England A wing Liam Botham, son of cricket legend Ian.

The Falcons have landed Botham on a three-year contract, reputedly worth more than £200,000, pinching him from under Harlequins' noses.

Quins had been firm favourites to secure the 22-year-old's services, but he will now be a Newcastle player next season.

Botham is a likely selection for England's two-Test summer tour of South Africa, and playing Premiership rugby on a weekly basis will clearly assist his international ambitions.

"We are delighted to have signed Liam" said Newcastle director of rugby Rob Andrew.

"He has proved himself with Cardiff and England A, and is a very ambitious young Englishman, which is something we are keen on at this club.

"Liam also wants to be in the north east because he feels that is his home," Andrew Added.

"We tried to get him when he went to Cardiff from West Hartlepool, but he'd already signed for them. We've spoken to a lot of people about Liam, and no one has a bad word to say about him."

Botham recently helped Cardiff clinch the inaugural Welsh-Scottish League title.

His pace and strength proved an important factor in their Championship winning campaign, and he now links up with a Newcastle squad whose back division boasts outstanding potential next term.

Botham apart, Andrew can also call on players like Jonny Wilkinson, Inga Tuigamala and John Leslie, plus two of English rugby's brightest young prospects in Jamie Noon and Michael Stephenson.

For Cardiff, Botham's departure is a blow, especially as further departures are likely. Their scrum-half and former Wales captain Rob Howley has been strongly linked with a move to Premiership leaders Leicester, while both prop Andrew Lewis and centre Leigh Davies have proved targets for English clubs.

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