Former Harlequins director of rugby Dean Richards takes no credit for last season’s Premiership title triumph – only pleasure.
The 49-year-old returned to the rugby spotlight earlier this week as his three-year Bloodgate ban finally ended to allow him to take full control at relegated Newcastle Falcons for their coming Championship campaign.
Eleven of the players on duty for the club’s fateful Heineken Cup quarter-final clash with Leinster in April 2009, were in the squad that beat Leicester Tigers to claim the Premiership title at Twickenham three years on.
And Tom Williams, Jordan Turner-Hall, Ugo Monye and Nick Easter were in Richards’ first National Division One squad to start that campaign at Pertemps Bees.
As a result, the Welford Road legend is credited with putting many of the building blocks in place that helped current Stoop chief Conor O’Shea and his men triumph last season with the Irishman paying tribute to his predecessor during the title celebrations.
But Richards insisted the success was all down to the current set-up.
“The team have moved on. There were two or three new faces that started the final,” he said.
“But even so, the side has evolved. It has got more mature in the way they look at life. They are no longer young guys and are a little bit wiser in themselves.
“I look at it with pleasure for the guys to have won what they won and the manner they won it. I was delighted for them.
“And especially for people who were there around the same time like Tony Russ, Collin Osborne and Andy Friend – who was also part of the journey – who put the blocks in place.
“I was a part of the team that did that, but it just gave me pleasure to see them get what they deserved.”
Richards, who had more than one offer to return to the game, famously led Quins back into the top flight at the first attempt following their enforced sabbatical in the second tier of English rugby in 2005.
And Richards, who signed former Stoop stars Chris York and Waisea Luveniyali this summer, is relishing the chance to repeat the trick with the Falcons and make them a Premiership force once more.
“I have huge regrets and would never ever do the same thing again,” he said.
“But I have the same ambitions to win things and same passions. Nothing has chan- ged in terms of my appetite to games of rugby.
“As I know with Quins, there is nothing at all that is a given in this Championship. Any side on their day can beat any other side. You only need a slight off day and you can be taken to the cleaners.
“It is my goal to establish Newcastle as a rugby strong hold, whether that is in a year, two years, five years or whatever. The potential within this area is absolutely massive.”