Newcastle Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards dedicated Saturday’s 22-10 victory over Gloucester to every member of staff and contractor who worked tirelessly to ensure the Gallagher Premiership fixture went ahead.
Battling sub-zero temperatures and heavy snowfall to get the pitch playable, Richards said: “That result was really for everyone who worked so hard to get the game on, and sums up the spirit in the whole club.
“Yesterday the players who weren’t playing in the game spent the morning and early afternoon shovelling snow from the pitch, and when you consider a lot of those boys will have been disappointed not to be selected it really speaks incredibly well of them that they were willing to put in that effort for their team-mates.
“Some members of staff then came in at 4.30am on game day, although I must stress I wasn’t one of them – I was safely tucked up in bed and had a bacon sandwich on my way to the stadium a few hours later before joining in in whatever limited manner I could!
“As well as the grounds staff we’ve had the office staff in, the commercial team, conferencing team, media manager, community team and all the backroom staff. It has been an incredible effort because with all the covid restrictions we couldn’t ask for help from our supporters, despite their many very kind offers to come in and assist.
“It was just an unbelievable job to get the thing playable, and I really have to dedicate the win to everyone who gave up their time in some pretty awful weather.”
Tries from Adam Radwan, Matias Orlando and George McGuigan secured the result for a Newcastle side who have lost only once in the league this season, Richards saying: “It was a hard game, and Gloucester are a far better side than their league position suggests.
“We knew it was going to be difficult, and as well as winning the game I was also really pleased we denied them the bonus point with the try right at the end. That showed a real ruthlessness, and I like that from the boys.
“I’m honestly delighted with the result, even if the performance wasn’t impeccable.
“We missed some opportunities, we didn’t adapt to the referee at times and we’ll look at all those things in due course.
“The pleasing thing, despite all that, was how we managed to control the game in the closing 20 minutes, and although it was never comfortable it looked increasingly more likely we were going to win as we got nearer towards that business end.”
Leading only 12-7 at half-time despite creating a welter of pressure, Richards added: “They threw plenty at us in the third quarter after we’d failed to make our territory count at the end of the first half, but we took that battering and just came back at them.
“The breakdown was refereed differently to most games we’ve had, and after that first penalty we were thinking ‘God, how quick is that?’
“It’s just the way it is, and you’ve got to react to it. We didn’t do that particularly well, which we’ll reflect upon, and I can’t remember a penalty being given away more quickly at ruck time than that first one.”
Taking stock of his side’s position towards the top of the table, the Falcons boss said: “I’m delighted with where we are, overall.
“Bristol last week was the one that got away, which was purely down to our own accuracy, and you’ve got to take your chances. But we’re happy with the season so far if you take it as a block, and we’re just looking to push on now.”