Richards coached Leicester Tigers to successive European victories in 2001 and 2002, the only club to retain the title until Leinster beat Ulster in the final last May.
Leicester’s bid for a hat-trick of successes was ended by Munster at the quarter-final stage in 2003 but Richards, who now coaches Newcastle Falcons after serving a three-year ban for his part in the Harlequins ‘Bloodgate’ controversy, believes Joe Schmidt’s men have what it takes to make history.
“It is a big ask. Two is an incredible feat, but three on the trot is unprecedented. So in that respect, it will be very difficult,” said Richards, whose Newcastle side defeated Connacht Eagles 34-3 in the British and Irish Cup on Friday night. “But they have got the squad to do it. It just depends if things fall into place. The Heineken Cup is a very difficult competition in terms of the cut-off times and the squad system that they use. You are reliant on being injury free and getting the bounce of the ball in places. But they have the capabilities.”