Newcastle Falcons: Josh Peters’s unlikely rugby journey to win the Premiership

Josh Peters
Josh Peters, who has played age-group rugby in England and Spain for 10 years, has been awarded 10 caps for Spain.

South London accent and cultural influences are from south Spain. However, rugby is now in north-east England.

This is the background of Spain international Josh Peters.

It was an adventure that took him from England through the Costa del Sol to Newcastle Falcons via Oundle School, Doncaster and other places.

After moving up from the Championship, the 26-year-old second-row forward is now settling in at Kingston Park.

Peters stands 6ft 8ins tall and isn't the average Spaniard. However, his passion for rugby was cultivated on a Marbella pitch.

Josh Peters
Josh Peters (right), started playing rugby at Marbella Rugby Club just down the street from his Benalmadena home.

“I mixed with everyone”

Peters was born in Sidcup and moved with his parents at the age of two to Benalmadena near Malaga where his grandparents had a bar.

He was ensconced in Spanish before he was introduced the game that would change his life.

He told BBC that he started playing rugby with some Argentine guys who lived on his street. “They invited me down to Marbella Rugby Club which was approximately 25 minutes away from the coast.

“There was a wonderful mix of expat English and Argentine boys in my team. They came from different backgrounds. Many English people were born to wealthy families, and they went to international schools.

“The Spanish were ordinary boys, but the ones from Argentina were economically displaced migrants who had traveled halfway around the globe with their families to seek a better life.

“I was probably somewhere in between as I was English. However, I went to an average Spanish state school so that I could mix with everyone.

“We were picked by coach and taken to the rugby club. The grass was definitely more difficult than the pitches here. The river was right next to the field where we played, and it was either flooded, or more likely, bone dry. The pitch was also the same.

“It was not great for your knees!”

Josh Peters
Josh Peters (far right), during his time representing Spain as a youth team

“Life in England felt so structured”

Marbella was extremely successful and won a number Spanish championships. Peters was part of a team that had players at Bordeaux and Toulon. His performances earned him the opportunity to represent Spain in 2012's European Championships.

Oundle School and John Olver, an ex-hooker from England, spotted him there. Peters was awarded a scholarship to Northampton Saints academy, where he would finish his studies.

He said, “I enjoyed my time in Spain.” “Everyone was calm and it was so relaxing.

“Then I went back, and it felt so structured in comparison. I had previously played for fun, and then I went to a club. The mentality I had was very different from what other people had and was also culturally different.

“In Spain there wasn't a sense of urgency. It was a case of “manana, maana”; but, it's 25 degrees outside, so you shouldn't rush.

“It was also difficult at school because I hadn't studied English before, and suddenly I was writing essays in it.”

Josh Peters
Doncaster's second-row was played 18 times last season, as they were runners-up at the Championship

“I don't love cold as much as I used to”

Peters didn't represent Northampton in its first team. Peters had spells at Coventry & Doncaster, with a year at Dijon France. This was before Newcastle called with a two year contract.

Peters has settled well in to the Falcons multi-national dressing room and is enjoying mixing with players from South Africa (Argentina) and Samoa.

Now comes the challenge of cracking Premiership rugby, and bearing the north east winter, which will be evident for Friday's home fixture with Exeter.

“Coming to Falcons will be a challenging experience.

“I played in a Premiership club once before, but it was nice to go back down and get back up. It's almost like not wanting to waste anymore years and getting a kick up your backside.

“I must admit, though, that I am not a big fan of the cold. I'll take 25 degrees over five any day of the week.

“I still vividly remember the first time I returned to England. I was not dressed in the proper clothes and I completely froze the second year. Then I played for Spain in Moscow against Russia and had to clean off the snow.

“We have a great dressing room here in Newcastle with a few Argentines as well as a few South Africans.”

Josh Peters
Peters signed a two-year contract with the Newcastle Falcons this summer.

“Two teams less, but the same number of players”

Peters has settled into his life with Falcons. However, domestic rugby has been dominated by the collapses Worcester Warriors and Wasps. This has reduced the number to just 13 teams.

It has been a popular topic in dressing rooms all across the country and Peters said it has increased the focus of each player.

He said, “It's difficult times for the sport.”

“The fact is that 120 elite athletes aren't associated with a club which makes it difficult for us all. There are two teams, but there are still the same number of players trying to get deals.

“Worcester was a yo yo club. But Wasps were former European Champions and have had some the most prominent names in the game play for them. It's shocking to witness their fall from grace. It can happen to anyone, even if it happens to them.

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