Dean Richards: Newcastle Falcons staying positive on European Champions Cup hopes

Sinoti Sinoti and Sonatane Takulua
Newcastle Falcons have not finished as high as seventh since 2005-06

Newcastle Falcons maintain hopes of reaching next season's European Champions Cup, with two games to play, says director of rugby Dean Richards.

Falcons have not been in the elite competition since the 2004-05, when they qualified as Powergen Cup winners.

Currently ninth, they are eight points behind the last automatic spot in sixth, while a seventh-place finish could earn them a play-off place.

"It's definitely still on the cards," Richards told BBC Newcastle.

"Assuming that we turn up this week and next, it's a possibility and we have to give ourselves that opportunity. If it comes then, happy days."

Champions Cup Permutations

Standing before the Falcons and any chance of tussling with Europe's elite are Northampton, Harlequins and Gloucester.

In addition to the Premiership top six, Champions Cup rugby is also a possibility for the team finishing in seventh place - within certain permutations.

They go into a play-off with Pro12 and French Top 14 clubs.

Gloucester are the biggest threat to the Falcons, as they are above them in the table and are also in the final of the second-tier European Challenge Cup.

Success in that competition would guarantee the Cherry and Whites a Champions Cup play-off place if they finish outside the Premiership's top six, rendering the league's seventh place play-off spot obsolete.

"There's a mathematical possibility that we can get sixth though that's pretty remote," Richards added.

"We can still finish seventh and we've got to win them all. Everyone is excited."

Newcastle take on Worcester in their final home game of the season on Friday before travelling to already-relegated Bristol on 6 May to end their campaign.

Newcastle's Jamie Noon and Mark Mayerhofler
Newcastle got to the Heineken Cup quarter finals on their last entry to the competition in 2004-05

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