FORMER Kendal RUFC player Mark Wilson reached a landmark 200th appearance for Aviva Premiership side Newcastle Falcons on Saturday.

The back-rower captained the Falcons in their important 11-10 victory over Harlequins at Kingston Park on his big day.

“People often ask about why the Falcons are so good at bringing through their academy guys, and for me it’s about the chances you get here,” said Wilson, a product of Kirkbie Kendal School before he made the move to the North East and rugby’s top flight.

“A lot of clubs pay lip service to it but when it comes down to the crunch they don’t give first team exposure to their academy guys, whereas up here we’re not scared to do it.

“That’s what really helped me at the start of my career – knowing that the coaches had the confidence to put me in there – and it means you have that bank of experience to build on by the time you are in your early 20s.

“Younger players are trusted here, they will get their opportunity and the ones who take it can then go on to great things.”

Making no attempt to play down his joy at reaching a double century, the England flanker said: “When I reached 100 for the club it was already in my mind that I wanted 200, and I was delighted to be able to do that on Saturday.

“It’s 200 more games than I thought I would play here when I was 14 or 15 years old and just starting out in the Falcons academy, but it’s a huge honour and I’m really over the moon.”