CHRIS FOY: Dean Richards is setting the right tone at Newcastle

CHRIS FOY: Dean Richards is setting the right tone at Newcastle, his selfless, hard-grafting values were epitomised by his herculean snow-clearing efforts on Saturday… and it is inspiring a resurgence on Tyneside

  • Newcastle dug deep to beat Gloucester 22-10 in the Premiership on Saturday
  • Director of Rugby Dean Richards is setting the right tone for a resurgence 
  • Richards led the herculean snow clearance effort to allow game to go ahead

When Newcastle dug deep for victory on Saturday, their efforts highlighted once again how Dean Richards has set a selfless, hard-grafting tone to inspire a resurgence on Tyneside.

Far too often, the rugby establishment bangs on about sacred core values and the boast is hollow, but not in the case of the former England No 8 and his club.

Richards co-ordinated the herculean snow-clearance at Kingston Park which allowed the Falcons to fulfil their Premiership fixture against Gloucester — and win it 22-10.

Dean Richards is setting a selfless, hard-grafting tone to inspire a resurgence at Newcastle 

Richards led the snow clearance to allow fixture vs Gloucester to go ahead – and won it 22-10

15 T De Glanville (Bath)

14 P Odogwu (Wasps)

13 S Radradra (Bristol)

12 C Redpath (Bath)

11 A Radwan (Newcastle)

10 C Sheedy (Bristol)

9 H Randall (Bristol)

1 B Rodd (Sale)

2 T Cruse (Wasps)

3 O Hoskins (London Irish)

4 J Launchbury (Wasps)

5 D Attwood (

6 T Curry (Sale)

8 T Faletau (Bristol)

7 M Wilson (Newcastle)


Typically, the man in charge focused on others who had done so much to keep the bandwagon rolling.

‘The non-squad boys were out here shovelling snow yesterday along with the groundsmen, the physios, conditioners, maintenance guys and everybody else, to get the game on,’ said Richards. ‘That epitomises what the club is about.’

In fact, Richards epitomises what the club is about. He may delegate coaching duties but he does not sit on a pedestal, dishing out orders.

He was at Kingston Park at 7am on Saturday, putting in a shift gritting and scraping away snow and ice on the pitch and around it.

Richards is grounded and willing to play his part behind the scenes, with community initiatives. The summer before last, he took players and staff to old people’s homes, shops and sports clubs around the North East — lending a hand by gardening and decorating.

While he demands commitment, he promotes work-life balance, too — emphasising a need to give time to family and outside interests.

Richards heads out in his fishing boat when the opportunity arises and if he senses that the office mood is too serious, he tells those present to take a break for a game of darts.

On the field, his template is embodied by back-row pair Mark Wilson and Gary Graham, who are relentlessly energetic, aggressive and influential.

But Newcastle can also dazzle, as illustrated by Adam Radwan’s length-of-the-field try against Gloucester and Toby Flood’s sublime catch and pass off his toes, under pressure.

‘We have a great team spirit and a great culture,’ said Richards. What a job he does for club and region.

Bath and Wasps try spree was the perfect antidote

It had to happen. Days after Covid caused celebrations to be banned, along came a glorious try spree. 

Bath versus Wasps on Friday night was a perfect test of whether players could restrain themselves from shaking hands and high-fiving. 

Wasps’ 52-44 victory over Bath – with 96 points and 11 tries – was an antidote to the gloom

What an antidote to all the gloom around — 96 points and 11 tries, seven of them from the visitors. Paolo Odogwu was electric and Tom Cruse continued the recent club tradition of hookers masquerading as outside backs. 

Leave the defence coaches to agonise over missed tackles, the rest of us can revel in a game full of box-office brilliance rather than box-kicking tedium. 

The Last Word 

Harry Randall chose a good time for a man-of-the-match performance to help Bristol inflict Exeter’s heaviest home defeat for four years, with Eddie Jones back from Japan in time to watch his masterclass at Sandy Park. 

The 23-year-old Bears scrum-half is eligible for England and Wales. His scorching form deserves higher recognition and Jones ought to move fast, or Wayne Pivac will snatch Randall from under his nose. 

Harry Randall was man-of-the-match in heavy defeat of Exeter with Eddie Jones watching

Then again, England’s head coach was at the Rec on Friday night, where Ben Spencer was outstanding, again. 

With Dan Robson and Alex Mitchell also firmly in the mix, there is now a queue of impatient contenders behind Ben Youngs, whose pre-eminence is under threat as never before. 

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