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Richards on England's real problem


Dean Richards on what's really holding England back and the obvious solution

Dean Richards believes ring-fencing the Gallagher Premiership is the only way to boost England’s chances of future World Cup and Six Nations success.

Richards’ view will be treated with some scepticism as his Newcastle team are facing the threat of relegation and they head into Saturday’s clash with Sale at St James’ Park three points adrift with just six rounds of Premiership matches remaining.

However, Richards, who will be in the mix when England have to find a replacement for head Eddie Jones , is adamant ending relegation is the only way to help England’s cause as it would reduce the pressure on clubs to constantly play their leading players. Mark Wilson, the England flanker, was back in training with Newcastle just 48 hours after playing in the 38-38 draw with Scotland and will be facing Sale on Saturday.

Richards, the Newcastle director of rugby, said: “I have always been a staunch believer in promotion and relegation up until the last two or three years. Such is the investment in the teams from owners and development of academies and stadia it is now getting to stage of looking who can offer that ( outside the Premiership) and there are very few clubs out there. You are getting to a stage where you would be looking to bring fencing in.

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“If you are England and are looking at the Six Nations results and the boys are a bit tired wouldn’t you be thinking it would help us ( national team) in our preparation for the Six Nations or for a World Cup. Now is the ideal opportunity to get everyone together for the good of the game in England it would be the best thing.

“On paper, I think England have got a better team, with their best players on the pitch, than Wales but such is the ability to prepare the players accordingly then Wales performed better and came away with a Grand Slam. That is not saying their didn’t deserve it – they thoroughly did- but I don’t think Eddie Jones perhaps had the same opportunity to prepare his team as Warren did.

“The England players looked a bit tired and jaded in the second half and I would like to think it would be different in the World Cup but it doesn’t help your preparation in terms of mindset and confidence. “

Richards is confident of dragging Newcastle out of their current position and added: “We don’t think there is any pressure on us at all because we are not expected to stay up. We will go out without any pressure after everyone wrote us off three games ago and so if we stay up then happy days.

“I am not being blasé about if we go down or not because it is important that there is a Premiership side in the region. But, it is also important there is a club here in 20 years and so you have to marry that with budgets and I am sure that if we went down then we would come straight back up but that is not the intention.”

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Dean Richards on what's really holding England back and the obvious solution