Adam Hathaway, rugby correspondent of The People, salutes a couple of wins for one of the old characters of rugby and says Eddie Jones should be tapping him up for a venue for a night out.
Put your hand up if you thought Newcastle would be two from two after the second round of the Champions Cup.
And if you reckon you did stick the other one up – because we know you are a liar, liar and your pants are on fire, no-one had that marked down.
Away to Toulon, home to Montpellier, and the Falcons are unbeaten. If anyone really predicted that they can go to the pay-out counter at the bookies and prove it.
But pull the other one, it has got bells on and here at RugbySpy we sure as hell didn’t see that coming.
They were wins for the old guard and we are delighted that a man who could easily have been England coach, if things had turned out differently and he wasn’t so happy in the North East, is smiling.
Chris Ashton, with his hat-trick for Sale against Connacht, and Danny Cipriani, with his red card for Gloucester at Munster dominated some of the news agenda this weekend. Especially Danny boy.
You don’t have to be a fortune teller to know those two would be top of the list.
Maro Itoje also got a few mentions for a stellar performance for Saracens against Lyon and there was the ridiculous clash of colours in the Cardiff v Glasgow game but there was only one man of the weekend.
And it is a 55-year-old lumbering bloke, born in Nuneaton, who used to play a bit himself and has been telling others how to play for the best part of 20 years.
This hero of the weekend has really earned his beer. And knowing him he will have it…….and then when he has finished it he will have another one, and another one.
Dean Richards was a canny and physical No.8 back in the day and has been a canny coach at Leicester, Harlequins, Grenoble and Newcastle.
He was a brilliant player. He was not always trusted by England, he warmed up by reading the programme on the toilet before games before touching his toes a couple of times, but he could play.
Richards would lollop about and turn up just where you least expected it, snaffling ball or knocking down attackers, as he won 48 caps for England up to 1996 and six for the British & Irish Lions in 1989 and 1993.
Then he reeled off a couple of European Cups in charge for Leicester, in 2001 and 2002, and a string of Premiership titles.
As a player he would not have been the fastest, but he was quick in the head as they used to say about Bobby Moore, and he has shown the same cerebral sharpness in his coaching career.
One of Richards’ former team mates with England once told RugbySpy that the old boy was the strongest player he had ever run out with.
For the record, the same person told us that the hardest bloke in that vintage from late eighties to the mid 1990s was Peter Winterbottom.
Richards is proper old school and some of that has rubbed off on his Newcastle charges since he took over, after serving his three-year ban for the ‘Bloodgate’ scandal with Quins, in 2012.
Falcons made the Premiership play-offs last season but have not done so well domestically this season and no-one expected them to be two from two in the Champions Cup.
Toulon might be a mess but only Saracens have beaten them in Europe’s elite tournament at the intimidating Stade Mayol on the Mediterranean coast and Falcons managed that in round one.
They celebrated that 26-25 but going on the lash royally in France and they would have been at it again after Sunday’s 23-20 victory over Montpellier at Kingston Park.
Montpellier, coached by a hard-bitten Kiwi in Vern Cotter, are no mugs but they were put away thanks to a last gasp try, nine minutes into added, from Callum Chick and after 39 phases of possession.
And this is a very big deal indeed.
Only Newcastle, Saracens, Toulouse and Racing 92 have won their first two Champions Cup games this season – even Leinster got beaten at the weekend.
But Richards still refused to talk up his side’s chances ahead of December’s next European game against Edinburgh, coached by his old pal from Leicester, Richard Cockerill.
“We’re still the minnows, aren’t we? We’re still the little boys who have got absolutely nothing to lose,” said Richards.
“You put that Edinburgh team next to our one on paper and they’ve got something like 15 full current internationals, maybe more, so we’ve got absolutely nothing to lose at all.”
“It’s one of the most enjoyable wins because of the players involved because you’ve got a star-studded side like Montpellier, full of internationals, and for us, you’ve got a group of boys who just want to play for each other and work for each other.”
In other words they give it a lash and if it comes off they go on the lash and how refreshing is that? Heineken, now restored as title sponsors of the tournament would no doubt approve.
We are pretty certain there are fat measuring devices and protein shakes somewhere at Kingston Park but isn’t it great to see teams letting their hair down after a big win, even if they have got another game coming up a week later?
Some things can’t be bought in the gym and team spirit is often best found in a pub when the team get together. The team hotel in Toulon ran out of beer and, if you are of certain age and used to how rugby once was, that is a good thing.
Steve Archibald, the former Scotland, Spurs and Barcelona footballer, once famously said that team spirit was the ‘illusion glimpsed only in the aftermath of victory’.
But Newcastle still had this unquantifiable quality after winning just one game in the first six rounds of the Premiership, and it has got them over the line in the last two weeks.
Richards might be trying to keep a lid on it all but much more of this and the Geordies could be in line for a place in the knock-out phases in Europe.
Then the old team spirit would really be tested but for the moment let’s salute Richards and the likes of Mark Wilson and Joel Hodgson for upsetting the European apple cart.
**
Eddie Jones was in decent nick at Twickenham last Thursday when he announced his 36-man training squad, which will head to Portugal, ahead of the autumn internationals.
He was in decent nick for a bloke who has lost six out of his last seven games in charge, including May’s game against the Barbarians.
In fact Jones was on fire.
He ribbed our colleague from the Daily Telegraph who had written a story about a report recommending that the England head coach needed a director of rugby to report to.
He joked that phoning up players who were not picked, you guessed the bloke, was like phoning up a girlfriend who had fallen out of love with you.
And he told us a story about Max Mannix, who is directing a proposed film about Japan’s 2015 World Cup win over South Africa, tentatively titled ‘The Brighton Miracle’.
It was all knock about fun but now it is getting serious. Jones needs to get some results on the board and has a lot of ammunition missing as they are on the casualty list.
Anthony Watson, Billy and Mako Vunipola and Joe Launchbury would be in most people’s starting England XV and Jones is without all of them.
Chuck in the rest of the injuries and Jones has a mountain to climb to get more than one win out of the series which has games against South Africa, New Zealand, Japan and Australia.
They are coming back from Portugal two days before the game against the Boks and after eight rounds of Premiership and European rugby they could probably do with some down time.
Jones should give Dean Richards a ring and find out the name of a decent boozer on the Algarve.

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