Newcastle Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards has criticised Ealing Trailfinders for saying they are seeking legal advice following the suspension of the second-tier English Championship due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) announced on Friday that all competitions, except for the Premiership, would be cancelled due to the global pandemic.

Newcastle were 18 points clear at the top of the standings after winning all 15 matches this season and are on course to replace Saracens in the top division next term.

Ben Ward, director of rugby at second-placed Ealing, told The Rugby Paper: "We are taking counsel at the moment from a legal perspective as to what our position is."

The RFU said it was working on the ramifications of ending the season early and would announce its decisions next month.

Richards said that at a time of national crisis everyone should be "focusing on helping the most vulnerable people rather than instructing legal representation".

"Difficult decisions have to be made in these unprecedented times, when people's lives and livelihoods are being lost," Richards told Newcastle's website.

"If Ealing's primary concern is whether they can bridge the 18-point gap between our two teams to gain promotion, then that reflects very poorly on them considering everything else going on in the world right now."