Dean Richards named Newcastle Falcons director of rugby
Former Harlequins boss Dean Richards has been appointed as director of rugby at Newcastle Falcons for next season.
Ex-England forward Richards, 48, was banned for three years following his involvement in the Bloodgate scandal when he was in charge of Harlequins.
Richards' suspension finishes in mid-August, so that allows him to be in place in time for the new campaign. There will inevitably be those who feel very strongly that Richards shouldn't be allowed to return given the damage that the 'Bloodgate' episode inflicted on the sport. But he's served his time, he's shown tremendous remorse, he's stayed away from the game as instructed. This is a man with a huge well of rugby knowledge.
His suspension ends in mid-August, when he will take over from current Newcastle boss Gary Gold.
"I am delighted to get the opportunity to join Newcastle Falcons," Richards told the club website.
"Whilst there was interest from other clubs, there are two reasons why I chose the Falcons - the supporters and [Falcons owner] Semore Kurdi's ambition for the club.
"I met up with Semore and his vision made my mind up."
Richards will take over in time for the 2012-13 season with Gold, who took charge at Kingston Park on a six-month contract from Alan Tait in January, expected to return to his native South Africa at the end of this season.
But Kurdi, whose side currently lie bottom of the Premiership and eight points adrift of safety, said he was fully behind his current management set-up.
"Dean needs no introduction in the world of rugby, and it will be a true honour to have him at Newcastle Falcons next season.
"In the meantime we are 100% behind Gary and his team who have (worked) and who continue to work magnificently as we fight to preserve our Aviva Premiership status.
"The progress we are making and the tremendous support from our loyal fan-base is crucial in our fight to stay in the Aviva Premiership and I guarantee that Gary and his team will have the support of everyone associated with the Falcons as they have mine over the challenging weeks ahead between now and the end of the season."
Richards, who won 48 caps for England, began his coaching career at Leicester, winning four Premiership titles and two Heineken Cups at the club where he spent 15 years as a player.
He is set to team up with former Tigers colleague John Wells at Falcons.
Richards took charge at Harlequins in 2005 when they were in the second tier and led them straight back into the Premiership.
His four-year tenure ended in 2009 when he was implicated over a fake blood injury to Quins player Tom Williams during a Heineken Cup defeat by Leinster.
More recently, he has worked as an adviser with Worcester Warriors.