Gary Gold admitted he had "very mixed emotions" after his Newcastle team were left facing Aviva Premiership relegation despite beating Wasps at Adams Park.
The Falcons finished bottom by a point following a 22-game regular league campaign that saw them win just six matches, including Saturday's 14-10 success against Wasps. Newcastle's fate now rests on the outcome of this season's second-tier Championship title race, which will not be concluded until May 30.
Gold, who took interim charge of Newcastle in January and will now hand over the reins to Dean Richards, said: "It is a very emotional day, and the consequences are very upsetting. We were fighting for our lives. At 10-0 down there was perhaps a reason to give up, but the players didn't. They are a great bunch of guys who were up for the fight."
Bristol, London Welsh, Bedford and Cornish Pirates are all contesting silverware in the Championship title race on May 30, although it is thought only Bristol of that quartet categorically meet Premiership entry criteria.
Gold added: "My goal when I came to Newcastle was to keep them in the Premiership. I couldn't control the consequences today. The smart money will be on Richards inheriting a squad destined to play Championship rugby."