New London Scottish head coach Peter Richards fears breaking into the Championship’s top four will be even harder next term.

The 37-year-old backs coach, who has named former England international Tim Payne as full-time forwards coach, makes the step up following news director of rugby Mike Friday is set for pastures new.

Scottish, with Richards in charge of the backs, qualified for the Championship play-offs for the first time last term by finishing third in the table.

But they could not cap their most successful season for 16 years with silverware as they missed out on a shot at the title following a heavy semi-final aggregate defeat to Worcester Warriors.

And Richards – who collected 13 England caps to go with Heineken Cup and Premiership (twice) titles won with Wasps – has warned it will not be easy to go one step further next season.

“London Scottish is a great club, which is going in the right direction,” he said.

"This past season has been a huge learning experience for me and we have enjoyed tremendous success in the Championship.

“Both Tim and I want to continue to build on the momentum from last season but there are still many areas of our game which can improve.

“Clubs are strengthening their squads, including London Scottish, and I feel it will be a really competitive league next season.”

Payne, 36, joins the club from London Division One South champions Wimbledon where he worked alongside Harlequins number eight Nick Easter.Wimbledon RFC alongside England number eight Nick Easter.

The news comes after the exiles secured the services of 25-year-old Scotland Sevens scrum half Russell Weir.

Scotland U20 international Weir helped Loughborough Students secure promotion to National Division One.