Dean – “France is a great spot to play in”

Thursday 11 December 2014 Written by: Adam

Newcastle Falcons Director of Rugby says the unique environment of an away game in France will be a great experience for his side as they prepare to face Stade Francais at the Stade Jean-Bouin later this evening.

Richards, who has extensive experience of playing and coaching across the channel throughout his career says that this fixture is the sort of occasion that those involved with professional rugby relish.

“It is a great spot to play in, I’ve been over there and played against Stade Francais in front of 80,000 and although there won’t be quite as many as that this time, it will still be a pretty fiery atmosphere which is a really good environment to play in and it will be a great experience for these boys.”

Following last Friday’s pulsating 30 – 23 win over the French side at Kingston Park, Richards and his coaches head into tonight’s match pleased with that result, but actuely aware of the challenge posed by the Parisians on their own turf.

“We played reasonably well, we missed a few opportunities that would have put them a little bit further out of sight and made it a little bit easier on us in the end but on the whole we were pretty pleased with the performance.”

“Having spoken to a couple of their coaches after the game last week, they are really desperate to win this week, it’s going to be a big challenge. There is nothing better going to France and playing them in their own back yard and pitting your wits against some of the best in Europe.”

“Stade are third in the Top 14 at the moment and you don’t get there for no reason, they are a good side with a lot of strength in depth.”

After announcing a side showing seven changes to the starting 15 that ran out last Friday, Richards still expects his team to be very much in the game.

“We’ve had to tinker a little bit from last week, we have had a few injuries to address and we also expect Stade to come at us a bit harder, but it is still a squad that we expect to be competitive.”

It is a view backed up by statistics, heading into round four’s fixture, Sean Robinson and Chris Harris sit first and second in the number of tackles made so far this season with 45 and 44 respectively.

The team have also been shining in attack with a total eight first half tries in the three matches to date, with no club managing more.

Specifically against Stade last week, the Falcons enjoyed 93% success rates in both scrums and line outs and also made 11 clean breaks against Stade’s 6.3.

Tonight’s match is broadcast live in the UK on Sky Sports 1 with the programme starting at 19:30