Dean Richards: The sinner turned saint has Newcastle Falcons flying high

Having done his time for his role in the Quins Bloodgate scandal, Richards is enjoying a new lease of life resurrecting Newcastle, as he tells Simon Turnbull

For four months now, Dean Richards has been working away under the national radar. It will be different tomorrow. His high-flying Newcastle Falcons will be in the spotlight, three miles down the road from Newcastle Airport.

The Sky Sports television cameras are coming to Kingston Park for the RFU Championship fixture between Richards' Falcons and London Scottish. It is not just any old second-tier contest. It will be the first match in which the man in the middle will be hooked up with a three-inch piece of new technology called a ref cam.

If nothing else, as well as picking up some choice exchanges between the front rows, the occasion will highlight the rehabilitation of Richards. Having taken the rap for the Bloodgate affair – resigning as director of rugby at Harlequins in the summer of 2009 and accepting a three-year ban as the man responsible for the use of a fake blood capsule to engineer the substitution of Tom Williams by Nick Evans in a Heineken Cup quarter-final against Leinster – the former Leicester, England and Lions totem of a No 8 has been managing very nicely on his return to the game.

The Falcons are 12 points clear at the top of the Championship with 11 wins out of 11. In all, they have won 16 matches out of 16 under Richards. Last month they beat Tonga, which was more than Scotland could manage in what proved to be the national coach Andy Robinson's last stand.

"I'm enjoying life here," the big bear of a 49-year-old says, sitting comfortably in his Falcons sweatshirt in the deserted East Stand bar at Kingston Park. "Professionally, I think the club is going in the right direction. We're winning on the pitch, which is a big thing, and off the pitch the changes we have made have got us moving in the right direction too.

"So, yeah, I'm enjoying it. I love the area. I love the location. Everybody's very welcoming. And you don't have to go far out of Newcastle to see some beautiful scenery."

Deano has been this way before, of course – not so much up in Hadrian's Wall country as putting the rebuilding blocks in place with a relegated side. Back in 2004-05, the man who guided Leicester to six trophies in six seasons spent a year in the Championship laying down the foundations that have taken Harlequins to success under Conor O'Shea.

In the far North-east of England, it is Richards' intention to create a lasting top-flight bastion – something more durable than the fleeting success at Newcastle that was largely bought with Sir John Hall's largesse in the late 1990s.

"It's exactly why we're trying to do things right, rather than fudge the issue and do what a lot of the other [Championship] clubs are trying to do, which is potentially buying players in for the final two or three months of the season and then buying players to play [in the Premiership].

"For us... we're in for the long haul. We had our 'Visions and Values' day the other day, which was looking purely at why we're here and the longevity of it. Unless we've got the right culture and the right vision, the right values, then it's going to be short-term. So let's get everything in place, and let's make it happen."

On his return to the game in late August – having served a longer ban than the combined punishment meted out to Dwain Chambers (two years), Eric Cantona (two months) and Rio Ferdinand (eight months) for their various sporting misdemeanours – Richards expressed genuine remorse and regret about the affair that cost him so much. Four months on, he says he has "mellowed." Does he feel he has drawn a line under Bloodgate now, though?

"Well, it's nearly four years ago, isn't it? So I'll probably say 'yes,'" Richards replies. "People tend to forget that it's nearly four years ago. It's just that the sanction went on a little bit longer than you'd think. But, yeah, there's a line drawn under that, most definitely."

With the backing of local businessman Semore Kurdi, Richards has gone about his rebuilding mission at Kingston Park with a little cross-border influence. The man who was famously punished for larking about with the Calcutta Cup has the sons of two former Scotland internationals in his ranks – lock Sean Tomes and scrum-half Rory Lawson, who played for the Scots against Tonga last month – plus the former Scotland forwards Ally Hogg and Scott Macleod.

"We have got a Scottish influence here but perhaps not to the extent we could do," Richards says. "The foremost thing is we're English, though. To have a nucleus of English-qualified players is a goal and an ambition of mine, because what it will do is bring a culture – an English culture as well, which is something we're very keen on."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition