this is simple JSF question. you should use redirect from welcome file to real JSF page in order to pass request through JSF servlet.
Thanks, that helped a lot.
I put a blank home.jsf file there as noted by lamekisser in that thread instead of using a redirect. Strangely it worked fine in previous versions of Richfaces. Even more strangely, this resolved another problem of mine where Yahoo search would not recognize my site homepage as a valid URL.