- Richards returns to rugby in RFU Championship after three-year ban
- There are some fantastic sides in the competition – Richards
Photo: RFU Archive
The RFU Championship season launch saw two new faces in attendance as both Dean Richards and Ben Harvey joined the second tier of professional rugby with Newcastle Falcons and Jersey.
The former returns to the sport after a three-year ban, and brings with him a wealth of experience having coached Leicester Tigers and then achieving promotion from the Championship – then National League One – with Harlequins in 2006.
Speaking at the launch of the 2012/13 competition at Twickenham Stadium, Richards discussed the changes in rugby union during his enforced absence from the sport
“I think it’s changed but not massively," he said. "There are new rules and regulations that have come in and different personnel, so things will have changed but not overly.
"The game in its basic form is still there and if you make that too complicated, players won’t pick it up whereas if you make it simple, I think people will understand it, and it’s a simple game."
The former England No.8 has observed Newcastle from afar during his absence and is eager to get the new season started.
“I’ve been reasonably close in terms of moving up to Newcastle, but I’ve had no active involvement at all," he added. "That’s actually enabled me to watch them and see them from a distance, which has been quite interesting actually. I’ve been very impressed. The coaches are very good, they’ve put in place some good structures and we’ll wait and see.
“We’ve had three good pre-season results but again, you never know with those matches how much the other teams are putting into it or which way they’re looking. So for us, it’s all about preparation for the first league game and getting that right, then we’ll see what happens.”
The Falcons are favourites for an immediate return to the Aviva Premiership, but as Richards knows, nothing is guaranteed in the competition he considered to be packed with fantastic sides and great players.
He said: “I think there are some fantastic sides in the competition, with some great players. Our ambitions are to get up there and if we don’t, we’ll be very disappointed but I think there will be a number of other teams in the Championship saying the same thing. It’s a big year for a lot of the teams.”