Dean Richards lavished praise on his Newcastle Falcons troops after seeing his side secure promotion back to the Aviva Premiership at the first time of asking.
The Falcons regained their top-flight status thanks to last night’s 31-24 victory over Bedford Blues in the second leg of the RFU Championship play-off final.
And with the likes of Saracens, Leicester Tigers and Harlequins all set to visit Kingston Park next term, Richards said: “The boys have stuck to their guns well this season and have been resilient throughout the year.
“The Championship has improved from when I was in it with Harlequins, and there are some quality sides. You just have to look at Bedford tonight, coupled with Nottingham and Leeds to realise the strength in depth of this league.”
Finishing the regular campaign 24 points clear of second place Nottingham, Richards admits the passage to the top tier of English rugby is far from ideal.
“We have won and achieved our main objective for the season,” said Richards.
He added: “I still think the play-offs are an awful way to get promoted, but last night was a job well done and I am really pleased for the players.
“I think they have been outstanding, and they have equipped themselves well throughout the year.”
There will be more reaction with Richards on Falcons TV later this evening.