A MAJOR rugby union club has recruited two Cumbrians to its senior academy.

Marcus Tiffen, recent leaver from Austin Friars School and former Carlisle RUFC player, has been signed to the Newcastle Falcons Senior Academy.

He is joined by former Penrith RFC player and Sedbergh School sixth form student Louie Johnson.

The Cumbrians are two of five new signings to the academy after two of its players were promoted to the First Team squad.

Whitehaven-born Rob Farrar is one of the two academy players who have been promoted to the main team.

Farrar scored on his first team debut for the Falcons when they faced Hartpury in November 2019.

He has made five appearances for the squad since then.

The Falcons’ first team compete in the televised Gallagher Premiership.

Tiffen, a rising star backrower, is the product of Cumbria’s Developing Player Programme.

He finished his A-levels a year early at 17 in 2020 to begin a mathematics degree at Newcastle University.

Tiffen will balance his time between studying for an honours degree and playing professional rugby at the North East club.

He has already played for the club’s A-team against the England Under-20s, contributing to a 43-22 victory.

Matt Harris, Headmaster at Austin Friars School said: “On behalf of myself and the whole school community of Austin Friars it gives me enormous pleasure to congratulate our former head boy Marcus Tiffen on his first senior academy contract at Newcastle Falcons.

“Marcus finished his A Level studies last summer before embarking upon a degree in Mathematics at Newcastle University a year early, at the age of 17.

He said: “Marcus came through the Cumbria DDP pathway and was selected as an England Academy Player on that journey.

“Marcus was a great student and a kind and thoughtful friend to his peers.

Mr Harris said: “It is a rare gift to inspire others in daily life and we know he will continue to make the most of his gifts and progress well in all aspects of his education and, in doing so, will help others along the way by his example.”

Sedbergh’s Johnson, a fly-half joined the Developing Player Programme at age 12, he has featured in all of the Falcons’ age group teams and later became an important part of England’s Under-18s squad.

Like Tiffen, he played for the Falcons A-Team against England’s under-20s earlier this season.

The Newcastle club has said he made his mark on the adult game in that match, with an eye-catching solo counter-attack try from 50 metres out.

The Newcastle side is committed to developing their players from a young age and from community clubs.

Falcons have averaged 12 academy graduates in the first team match day squads this season.