Dean Richards has admitted that his Newcastle players will be at a “massive disadvantage” against their fellow Gallagher Premiership teams when the new 2020/21 season kicks off with a trip to Bath on November 21. When the Falcons players run out at Bath it will be 253 days since their last competitive fixture in the Championship.
That 41-0 win over Bedford took place on March 13 and Richards’ unbeaten side were eventually handed the title and given promotion to the Premiership despite the season not being finished.
Having since been furloughed, the Falcons players are now back in full training and two warm-up games with Ealing Trailfinders have at least allowed Richards and his squad to experience the new breakdown scenario.
Newcastle boss Richards said: “It’s a massive disadvantage and the other Premiership teams will be match hardened. We haven’t played a league match for over 250 days and it will take us a few games to get used to.
“It’s been a long time and you have to take your hat off to the players who have been incredibly patient. It has been really hard and everybody has sat there at some stage and thought ‘when is it going to stop?’ You have to come to terms with it and it has started to become the norm now.
REACTION: Director of rugby Dean Richards insisted Saturday’s 38-17 loss at Ealing was a good one to get out of the way as both sides blew away the cobwebs following eight months without a game https://t.co/mkGyshll7z pic.twitter.com/VsH9uNcHjn
— Newcastle Falcons (@FalconsRugby) November 7, 2020
“The first three or four months the boys were wondering when it was all going to end and was there light at the end of the tunnel? It has been hard work. At the start, we didn’t do anything being in lockdown and furloughed, so when we came in on a part-time basis understanding what physical shape the players were in was quite difficult.
“We have had a number of lower limb injuries and we did research. A lot of football clubs have the same thing. It all comes down to de-conditioning and the beauty for the Premiership clubs is they were back in pretty quickly and started playing.
“For us, it meant we were six to eight weeks behind and it has been a long haul. We have had to tread very carefully and it has been a long off-season and a tentative return to being with and then building up from there. Mark Wilson pulled his hamstring while with England and won’t be out much longer and some of the boys have had quite severe tears – six or seven weeks. The impact can be significant when you are preparing for the new season.”
Newcastle are viewed as one of the clubs that could face significant financial problems if crowds do not return in the New Year to boost revenue. Richards added: “There is no sign of this abating until at least March and everyone will be concerned. It’s about working out the best way to get to the other side. We have to make sure that at the end of this season we are there for the next one.”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 13, 2020
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