Dean Richards will step down as Newcastle Falcons’ director of rugby at the end of the current campaign, with head coach Dave Walder taking charge of rugby matters.
Richards guided Newcastle back to the Gallagher Premiership at the first attempt after taking the reigns in 2012, but he has opted to step aside following a decade at the helm.
The 58-year-old, who also enjoyed spells at Leicester, Grenoble and Harlequins, will continue his association with the Falcons in a part-time consultancy role.
Having guided Leicester to four Premiership titles and two Heineken Cups during a glittering period at Welford Road, Richards also inspired Harlequins’ revival, transforming them from a Championship side into Premiership runners-up in 2009.
‘The ‘Bloodgate’ saga – which saw him and other Quins staff banned for their involvement – threatened to derail his career, but on his return to the game he revitalised the Falcons; leading them into the top four in 2018, which secured European Champions Cup rugby.
They were relegated the following season, only to return at the first attempt, and they have since maintained their Premiership status.
Former England fly-half Walder, twice a cup winner with Newcastle as a player, will assume control at Kingston Park alongside current coaches Mark Laycock, Micky Ward and Scott MacLeod, while former Falcon Mark Wilson is expected to join the coaching team.
However, former England internationals Nick Easter and Toby Flood will leave their respective positions as defence coach and kicking skills coach in the summer.