Aviva Premiership
Richards relishing coaching return
ESPN Staff
May 10, 2012
Dean Richards watches on at Kingston Park, Newcastle v Sale, Aviva Premiership, Kingston Park, Newcastle, England, March 30, 2012
Dean Richards has had a watching brief at Kingston Park in the last few months © Getty Images

Dean Richards insists he still has a "burning passion" for the sport as he prepares to return to the game with Newcastle having served a three-year ban for his role in the infamous 'Bloodgate' saga.

The former Harlequins boss was cast into the rugby wilderness after being found guilty of orchestrating the use of a fake-blood capsule in order to manipulate a substitution during his side's Heineken Cup quarter-final defeat to Leinster in 2009. But he will back in the public eye in August when he takes charge of a Falcons side that finished bottom of the Aviva Premiership but remain unsure whether they will be relegated from the top flight.

However, the former England No.8 is not troubled by the confusion surrounding the immediate future of his new club and is relishing the chance to reignite his coaching career. "I had a lot of interest and a lot of options. I chose Newcastle because of the vision of the owner Semore Kurdi," Richards told BBC Sport. "I still have a burning passion to win competitions. It's a fantastic area. They are mad keen on all sport. When I start in August, it will be full steam ahead."

Richards hopes his punishment has helped rid the game of the kind of tactics that dragged the sport through the mud during a protracted inquiry. "I hope I haven't served my three years for nothing," he said. "I hope other people have learned from my mistakes. I am still as competitive as ever, but I know the boundaries that I have to work in."

Asked if he was worried that some may always label him a cheat, no matter how successful his attempts to rehabilitate his reputation, Richards added: "They may do. That's up to them, if they want to. I have no issues if that's the way they feel. I know who I am, and I know what I did. I wasn't particularly pleased with myself. I wasn't proud of myself. But you move on and you look forward rather than back."

Richards' return was put in motion in March when he accepted an offer to takeover at Kingston Park, and intends to embrace the latest chapter of his career. "It's a game I love and have a huge passion for," he said. "There is huge regret for everything that went on, but, at the same time, it's a game I love and I think I've got something to offer it."

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