Newcastle Falcons have appointed Dean Richards as Director of Rugby for the start of the 2012-13 season.
Following the announcement, Richards said: "I am delighted to get the opportunity to join Newcastle Falcons. Whilst there was interest from other clubs, there are two reasons why I chose the Falcons - the supporters and Semore Kurdi's ambition for the club. I met up with Semore and his vision made my mind up."
Falcons owner Semore Kurdi has hailed the appointment of Richards adding: "It is not often that you get a chance to work with two people as talented and accomplished as Dean Richards and Gary Gold. Dean needs no introduction in the world of rugby, and it will be a true honour to have him at Newcastle Falcons next season.
"In the meantime we are 100% behind Gary and his team who have and who continue to work magnificently as we fight to preserve our Aviva Premiership status.
"The progress we are making and the tremendous support from our loyal fan-base is crucial in our fight to stay in the Aviva Premiership and I guarantee that Gary and his team will have the support of everyone associated with the Falcons as they have mine over the challenging weeks ahead between now and the end of the season."
As part of the build-up to next month's Cardiff 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals weekend, ERC has joined forces with the WRU, Cardiff Blues and adidas to develop an annual grassroots community rugby programme targeting young players.
The Ulster Rugby full back, Jared Payne (No 15), has been suspended for two (2) weeks following an independent Disciplinary Hearing in Dublin arising from the Heineken Cup quarter-final match against Saracens at Ravenhill Stadium on Saturday, 5 April.