Having steered them to their best season in two decades, Dean Richards has confirmed he has signed a new three-year deal to extend his stay as Newcastle Falcons’ director of rugby.

The former England and Lions back-rower joined the Falcons at the start of the 2012-13 season following their relegation from the Premiership, taking them to promotion at the first attempt and consolidating their top-flight status over the following three years.

Masterminding their climb up to eighth last season, Richards has been at the helm of a remarkable effort during the current campaign which has seen the Falcons reaching the Premiership semi-finals for the first time in the club’s history, also reaching the semi-final stage in both the European Challenge Cup and Anglo-Welsh Cup.

Richards broke the news of his new contract at a Falcons fans’ forum event, saying: “I feel passionate about the club, I always wanted to remain here and there is still a lot of work to do in terms of continuing the great progress we are making.”

Newcastle Falcons chairman Semore Kurdi, delighted to have retained Richards’ services, said: “Everyone within rugby knows what an outstanding job Dean has done here both on and off the field, and it’s fantastic news that he will be with us for the long term.”

Newcastle Falcons’ next game is the sold-out visit of Wasps to Kingston Park Stadium on Saturday, with a two-week break until the Aviva Premiership semi-finals on May 19.