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Premiership Rugby

Bristol’s Archer makes Newcastle return

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

The 28-year-old Archer helped Newcastle to the 1998 Premiership title, but left shortly after for Bristol, who this season finished bottom of the table and face relegation, despite Archer's return to form.

He joins a formidable Falcons second row division, featuring Springbok legend Mark Andrews and Scotland star Stuart Grimes, as well as England 'A' player Hugh Vyvyan, who has also been used in the back row of late.

Archer told The Journal of his return to his native north-east, and Bristol's torrid season: "It's been a nightmare time, and to be honest I'm just glad it's all over.

"I would have wanted it end differently and I'm really sorry the way things have turned out but the last few weeks have been awful and I'm very happy to be coming back home.

"I have missed the north-east. It's my home and I'm ready to come back. I'm looking forward very much to being part of the Falcons again, especially with a new stadium and a squad which shouts about their ambition."

The powerful Archer has 21 England caps to his name, although the last of those came back in 2000, when England lost the Grand Slam and the Calcutta Cup to Scotland in the Murrayfield rain.

He is expected to be the first of a number of departures from Bristol in the off-season, as the club decide whether to merge with neighbours Bath, or accept the drop into National Division One.

Wing Phil Christophers, fly-half Felipe Contepomi, centre Daryl Gibson and scrum-half Agustin Pichot have all been linked this week with moves away from the troubled club, while many more are expected to follow.

By Mark Smith

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