Richards hopes to lead Falcons back up

Dean Richards' goal is to re-establish Newcastle as a rugby stronghold, and he feels a Premiership return at the first attempt is step one.

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The Falcons were English champions in 1998 but they have struggled to build on that in the 14 years since, despite the best efforts of star names like Jonny Wilkinson. Richards laid the foundations for Harlequins' title triumph last season during his spell in charge at The Stoop, which also began with a year in the second tier of English rugby.

Richards, who was banned for three years for the Bloodgate scandal, is now back in the game and his long-term goal is to re-produce the same success Harlequins have enjoyed at Kingston Park. He said: "It's my goal to, whether it's in a year, two years, five years or whatever."

He added: "It is my goal and it is also the ambition of the owner, Semore Kurdi. The potential within the area is absolutely massive."

Richards will attack the Championship with the same attitude that he brought to Harlequins, which included every player being instructed to buy their opposite number a post-match beer.

The demands will be different this year, though. Harlequins won promotion by finishing top whereas the champions are now decided through a four-team play-off system, as in the Premiership.

"It is a challenging place to be," Richards said. "I have been there before, I know what it is all about. You only need to have a slight off day and you will be taken to the cleaners.

"You can go through the season and be very disrespectful just thinking it is a job that has got to be done and not have much input.

"But a lot of the boys will be going to places they have never visited before and they have never experienced the facilities, the crowds, the locations that we are going to do this year.

"You may as well go to these places and enjoy it and understand you are going there for a reason - to win a game - but you can go there and still enjoy yourself.

"I have always adopted that and hopefully we will have a bit of fun with the opposition as well."

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