Aviva Premiership
Richards confirms return with Falcons
ESPNscrum Staff
March 14, 2012
Dean Richards, Director of Rugby of Harlequins looks on during the Guinness Premiership match between Leeds Carnegie and Harlequins at Headingley Stadium on April 13, 2008 in Leeds, England.
Dean Richards is set to return from his rugby exile © Getty Images

Dean Richards has confirmed he will take over as Newcastle Falcons director of rugby next season - even if the club is relegated from the Premiership.

The former Leicester and Harlequins director of rugby will end his three years away from rugby by accepting the job when his coaching ban for his role in the Bloodgate scandal expires in August.

Richards has been widely tipped to replace current interim head coach Gary Gold at Kingston Park with the former Springbok assistant coach set to leave the club at the end of the season. And Richards has confirmed that he will join the Falcons irrespective of whether Newcastle avoid relegation from the Premiership or not.

"I am delighted to get the opportunity to join Newcastle Falcons," Richards said. "Whilst there was interest from other clubs, there are two reasons why I chose the Falcons - the supporters and Semore Kurdi's ambition for the club. I met up with Semore and his vision made my mind up."

Richards' ban expires on August 19 and he will then take over from Gold, who was appointed on a short-term deal by the Falcons in January. The 48-year-old guided Leicester to four Premiership titles and two Heineken Cup crowns before taking Harlequins from the Championship into the last eight in Europe.

The 'Bloodgate' scandal erupted in 2009 after Harlequins wing Tom Williams used a fake blood capsule to feign injury in their 6-5 Heineken Cup quarter-final defeat to Leinster. Richards is serving a three-year ban for his role in the scandal which rocked rugby.

Richards told The Journal: "The first year was the most difficult, in many ways. In other ways perhaps it wasn't, though. Because the job is basically 24/7, you tend to neglect your family growing up. It is only in the past three years that I have spent the amount of time I have wanted to with my wife and kids, and just watching the children playing rugby has been fantastic.

"In the last 12 months I have grown more and more frustrated. I watch the games every week and, like any coach, I am thinking 'why are they doing that?' Every coach's opinion is probably different from the next, but it has been frustrating and I want to get back in. I am raring to go, and I just can't wait."

Richards was not fazed by the prospect of taking over a side in the Championship, should Newcastle lose their battle against relegation. The Falcons are currently eight points adrift of Wasps at the bottom of the Premiership.

"I had agreed to join Harlequins before they got relegated seven years ago, and on the night they went down their chief executive Mark Evans rang me up and asked if I was still interested," Richards said.

"I said of course I was - I had signed a contract and always intended to honour that - and it is the same at Newcastle. The whole relegation thing didn't really faze me too much.

"A few of the players were upset about it, but two or three weeks into the Championship season they realised it was a great opportunity to try things, blood some youngsters and come back stronger.

"The year down there was used as preparation for a Premiership season, and even when we came up as relegation favourites the next year we were comfortably mid-table and built from there."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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