Richards out to reward local support
The 3pm kick-off could see a season-high attendance on the back of strong early sales, Newcastle’s director of rugby saying he and his squad have been heartened by the backing they are receiving.
Richards said: “The way that the region has reacted to us has been absolutely amazing, and it isn’t just Tyneside. I was out in Cumbria last week and people were coming up to me talking enthusiastically about the Falcons, we have a lot of support from Yorkshire, County Durham, Northumberland and a lot of folk come down from the Scottish Borders to support us.
“It is a huge region and they are loving the occasion in some respects. I am sure they would rather it were a play-off spot we are fighting for rather than the other way round, but it shows the interest in the rugby community up here.”
Currently four points above London Irish going into the final three rounds, Richards insisted the pressure was on the Exiles rather than his own players.
He said: “We have nothing to lose. Irish are coming up here and it could be the final nail in their coffin if they lose, and as a consequence there is a massive amount of pressure on them. They know what they have to do, and if they don’t deliver it or they fall behind, desperation may set in for them.
“It is entirely up to London Irish to show that desperation, if indeed there is any desperation. There is no doubt in my mind that there will be when you look at the way they have played the last six or eight weeks – they are throwing everything at every game and in that respect we expect them to try everything they possibly can to come here and win.”
Assessing the strengths of London Irish, Richards added: “They will try us in the scrum. We will obviously be asking for a legal scrum every time, because all we want is for the scrum to be legal. If it is kept legal we will be fine, and they also have a driving line-out which is particularly strong. We know what their aerial threats will be because you can see it week in, week out.”
Tickets for Sunday’s 3pm kick-off are selling fast, but are still available by calling 0871 226 6060, [**CLICKING HERE**] or by visiting Kingston Park in person.