Northampton Saints

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Northampton Saints
Full name Northampton Rugby Football Club
Nickname(s) Jimmies[1]
Founded 1880; 141 years ago (1880)
Location Northampton, England
Ground(s) Franklin's Gardens (Capacity: 15,500[2])
Chairman Tony Hewitt
Director of Rugby Jim Mallinder
Captain(s) Lee Dickson
Most caps Ron Jacobs (470)
Top scorer Paul Grayson (2,786)[3]
Most tries Teddy Cook (219)
League(s) English Premiership
2014–15 1st (Lost play off semi final)
1st kit
2nd kit
Official website

Northampton Saints are a professional rugby union club from Northampton, England. They were formed in 1880, and play in black, green, and gold colours. The team play their home games at Franklin's Gardens, which has a capacity of 15,500.

The club won their first major trophy when they defeated Munster in the 1999–2000 Heineken Cup final. Recent success has involved winning the European Challenge Cup (2008–09 and 2013–14), the 2009–10 LV Cup, and English Premiership (2013–14), as well as consistently maintaining a playoff position in the English Premiership. The Saints also reached the final of the 2010–11 Heineken Cup, the 2011–12 LV Cup, the 2012–13 English Premiership and 2013–14 LV Cup.

Their biggest rivals are Leicester Tigers. "The East Midlands Derby" is one of the fiercest rivalries in English Rugby Union.[citation needed]

The Saints posted a club record £13.34 million turnover for the 2012–13 season,[4] and a 13th consecutive year of profit up to 31 May 2013.


Early years

The club was established in 1880 under the original title of Northampton St. James (Saints) by Rev Samuel Wathen Wigg, a local clergyman and curate of St. James Church who was a resident of the nearby village of Milton Malsor in the house known as "Mortimers".[5] This is how the club got its two nicknames of The Saints or Jimmies. His original concept was to promote "order" to his younger parish members by creating a youth rugby club, with the philosophy of a "hooligan sport designed to turn them into gentlemen".

It was not long before Northampton had one of the major rugby union teams in the country. Twenty years after its establishment, the first Saints player, local farmer Harry Weston, was awarded an England cap.

As the club progressed through the early years of the 20th century one player dominated this era for the club, Edgar Mobbs. Edgar was a hero throughout the town. He was the first Northampton player to captain his country but is best remembered for his exploits in World War I. After initially being turned down as too old, Edgar raised his own "Sportsman's" battalion otherwise known as Mobbs Own. Edgar was killed in battle, leading his battalion over the top by kicking a rugby ball into no man's land on 29 July 1917 attacking a machine gun post and his body was never found. The club arranged the Mobbs Memorial Match as a tribute. It had been played every year since 1921 and the fixture took place between the Barbarians and East Midlands at Franklin's Gardens until the Barbarians withdrew their support in 2008.[6] The match was saved by the efforts of former Northampton player Bob Taylor and former Northampton chairman Keith Barwell, and since 2012 it has been played alternately at Bedford Blues' Goldington Road ground and Franklin's Gardens, with the host club facing the British Army team.[7]

In this postwar period the Saints continued to grow, and they started to produce some of the best players in England, some of whom went on to captain their country. They were one of the driving forces in the English game for the next 60 years producing players such as Butterfield, Jeeps, Longland, White and Jacobs but hard times were ahead.

The club failed to keep pace with movements within the game and top players were no longer attracted to the Gardens, where a 'them and us' mentality had built up between the players and those in charge of the club. Some former players formed their own task force which swept out the old brigade in the 1988 'Saints Revolution' and put a plan into action which would put the club back at the top of the English game.

Barry Corless, as director of rugby, set about restructuring the club and soon the Saints were back on the way up, helped by the signing of All Blacks legend Wayne "Buck" Shelford.

In 1990, Northampton Rugby Union Football Club gained promotion to the then First Division and the following year made their first trip to Twickenham to play Quins in the Pilkington Cup Final. They lost in extra time but the foundations of a good Saints line-up were beginning to show in the following few seasons.

Tim Rodber and Ian Hunter forced their way into the England setup while younger players such as Paul Grayson, Matt Dawson and Nick Beal came through the ranks and would follow the duo into the England senior team.

In 1994, Ian McGeechan took over as Director of Rugby, and although the club were relegated in his first season, they returned in style the next season, winning every single game of their campaign and averaging 50 points a game. This season is referred to by many fans of the club as the "Demolition Tour of Division Two".

Professional era

In 1995, rugby union turned professional and the club was taken over by local businessman Keith Barwell.

In 1999, Saints came runners-up in the Allied Dunbar Premiership, their league campaign climaxing with a crucial home local derby with eventual winners Leicester Tigers which they lost 15–22.[8] Ian McGeechan had left the club at the end of the previous season to return to coach Scotland, and was replaced by former Saints player John Steele who had done well on a limited budget at London Scottish. Steele relied on the foundations laid by McGeechan, as well as the inspirational captaincy of Samoan Pat Lam to lead the club to European success the following season.

In 1999–2000, the club became a Public Limited Company (Plc) and shares were issued to the public; in this season the Saints lost in the Tetley's Bitter Cup Final to Wasps, but beat Munster 9–8 in the European Cup Final to win their first major trophy.

After a poor start to the 2001/2002 season, former All-Black coach Wayne Smith was appointed as Head Coach. He went on to transform the club in five short months. A team who looked down and out in November were moulded into a side that reached the Powergen Cup final and again qualified for the Heineken Cup. Travis Perkins became the club's main sponsor in 2001.[9]

In recent times the club narrowly survived relegation from the Premiership, after the then coach (Alan Solomons) was sacked in the middle of the 2004–5 season. The coaching role was passed onto the former first team mates Budge Pountney and Paul Grayson to tide the team over. They had a slow start in the 2005–6 season, but continued to stay mainly unbeaten after the New Year. Budge retired at the start of the 2006–7 season leaving Grayson in overall control.

The Saints would again compete in the 2006–07 Heineken Cup. They finished second in their pool, behind Biarritz Olympique, the runners-up from the previous season. Northampton qualified for the quarter-finals and actually met Biarritz in Spain. Despite being in last place of the English league at the time, they defeated the French champions 7–6 to advance to the semi-finals.

Relegation (2007–08)

On 28 April 2007, despite a 27–22 victory over London Irish at Franklin's Gardens, Northampton were relegated from the English Premiership. A "behind the scenes restructure" led to the brief appointment of Peter Sloane as Head Coach, from the role of forwards coach. Paul Grayson became the skills and backs coach. England Saxons coach Jim Mallinder became the new head coach and Director of Rugby, with his assistant Dorian West also following as assistant coach. Peter Sloane has since left the club.

On 22 March 2008, Northampton beat Exeter Chiefs to ensure their promotion and a return to the Guinness Premiership. On 12 April 2008, Northampton beat Exeter Chiefs 24–13 at Twickenham Stadium to win the EDF Energy Trophy. On 26 April 2008 they ended their National Division One season undefeated with 30 wins from 30 games.

Return to Premiership (2008–present)

In the 2008–09 season, the Saints finished eighth on the table and only losing one game at home to Newcastle Falcons. They also lifted the European Challenge Cup, defeating French side Bourgoin 15–3 in the final on 22 May 2009 at The Stoop in London.[10] The victory gave them a place in the 2009–10 Heineken Cup.

In March 2010, the Saints won the LV= Cup final against Gloucester Rugby 30–24, gaining them their fourth piece of silverware in three years, and a place in the following season's Heineken Cup. They also finished second in the English Premiership, losing to Saracens 19–21 in the semi-final played at Franklin's Gardens, and progressed as far as the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup losing to Munster at Thomond Park, Limerick.

At the start of the new 2010/11 English Premiership, questions had been raised about the size of the squad.[citation needed] However, Saints started the season of with a six-game winning streak. They finished fourth in the English Premiership, losing to Leicester in the semi-final. Saints also went undefeated into the final of the Heineken Cup, where they were beaten by Leinster 33–22, at the Millennium Stadium after a second half collapse.[citation needed]

At the beginning of the 2011-12 season, with nine players out for the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, Saints struggled to find form at the beginning of the season. They were knocked out of the 2011–12 Heineken Cup in Stadium MK against a youthful Munster team. However, when the international players returned, Saints began to move up the table. England picked eight Saints players out of a squad of 32 to represent England, meaning that over a quarter of the England team were Saints – a new club record for the number of players selected for a single England squad.[citation needed] Two Saints were also picked for England Saxons. Nevertheless, in 2011/12, the Saints still reached a third successive Aviva Premiership semi-final and a second LV= Cup final in three seasons.

2012/13 was a roller-coaster of a season. After winning their first five matches, the Saints were pulled back into the pack both in the Aviva Premiership and exited both the LV= Cup and Heineken Cup, despite ending Ulster's four-year unbeaten home European record just before Christmas 2012. At a couple of points the team slipped to sixth in the Aviva Premiership table, but the team rallied and secured fourth place in the league. A stunning win at Saracens followed, which put the Saints in their first ever Aviva Premiership final. The 2013 English Premiership final at Twickenham was a batlle between Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints, which Saints lost 37-17.[11][12] The 2013 season finished with seven players being taken to Argentina as part of the England squad, including Tom Wood as captain.

The 2013–14 season proved to be successful for Northampton Saints, finishing second in the league with 78 points. They also beat Bath 16-30 to win the 2013–14 European Challenge Cup,[13] and then beat Saracens 20-24 in the Premiership final to win the 2013–14 English Premiership.[14][15] One of the standout players for the Saints in 2013–14 was American international Samu Manoa, who was voted Saints' supporters player of the year and was on the six-man shortlist for RPA players' player of the year award.[16]

2nd Kit 14/15

After a near perfect 13/14, it would always be difficult to emulate that level of success in the 14/15 season. The Saints finished at the summit of the table for the first time in their history, as well as reaching their fifth LV Cup semi final in seven years and the Heineken Cup Quarter Final. Although the squad all had a part to play, Calum Clark had a particularly stellar 12 months, taking home three Steffans Player of the Month awards as well as a clean sweep at the 2014/15 End of Season Awards, including the Supporters’ and Players’ Player of the Season awards and the Supporters’ Club Player of the Season. It was a great compliment to the club that 8 players were selected to play at Rugby World Cup 2015, representing four nations.


Franklin's Gardens

Northampton Saints have played at Franklin's Gardens since 1880, when the club was born. Franklin's Gardens is a purpose-built rugby stadium near the town centre. It is about 1,250 m from the railway station and about 2,000 m from the bus station. The stadium holds approximately 15,500 people. The stadium also has 40 corporate boxes. Each can hold from 8 to 24 people. The four stands are: Tetley's Stand; Burrda South Stand; Church's Stand; and the new Barwell Stand (which replaced the Sturtridge Pavillion). It is also a multi-functional conference centre as well as the only Aviva Premiership ground with its own cenotaph.

In 2009, the Saints' board announced they would be applying to increase capacity to 17,000 with the redevelopment of the North Stand. It was intended this would be funded by a £40 million investment by supermarket chain Asda, who would build a new store on the land currently used as training pitches. A political battle ensued with the local council, which later came to be seen as an attempt by the board to wrest public funding and public land for their commercial objectives.

The club has since secured funding through alternate means – a loan thought to be in the region of £5million through Northampton Borough Council – and with planning permission rubber-stamped, building will commence in the summer of 2015. The stand, which will take the name of the Barwell family, is due to be completed in time for the start of the 2015/16 season and will take the capacity at Franklin's Gardens up to 15,500.

Northampton Saints had an unbeaten home record that stretched from March 2007 to March 2009, much of this record was set during the Saints' 2007/08 promotion from the RFU Championship (previously National Division One). During the 2008/09 English Premiership regular season the Saints only lost at Franklin's Gardens on one occasion, to the Newcastle Falcons.

The average attendance at the Gardens this season[when?] is 13,428.

The club's Barwell Stand was finished in October 2015 and debuted against Saracens on 7 November 2015.

Heineken Cup matches

The club played a 2011 Heineken Cup quarter final match against Ulster at Stadium:MK in Milton Keynes, because Franklin's Gardens is too small to meet the minimum 15,000 seats demanded by the European Rugby Cup tournament organisers.[17] The Saints won the match, beating Ulster 23–13, before a crowd of over 21,000.[citation needed]


In 2008, after being promoted from the championship to the premiership, Saints changed from Kooga to Rhino. After two years with Rhino, and coming second in the table, Saints switched again to BURRDA, a Swiss sports apparel company. Northampton have signed a four-year deal with BURRDA which have brought back the old-fashioned ring but with a modern twist for the home shirt and the away shirt with its black and gold ring with a peppermint light green background. In the 2014/15 season BURRDA Released a kit with vertical Green, Black and Gold stripes of the same size. It was one of the most popular kit releases of Saints History.

Current squad

2015–16 Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.

Player Position Union
Dylan Hartley Hooker England England
Mike Haywood Hooker England England
Kieran Brookes Prop England England
Alex Corbisiero Prop England England
Gareth Denman Prop England England
Paul Hill Prop England England
Alex Waller Prop England England
Ethan Waller Prop England England
James Craig Lock England England
Christian Day Lock England England
Courtney Lawes Lock England England
Victor Matfield Lock South Africa South Africa
Michael Paterson Lock England England
Sion Bennett Flanker Wales Wales
Calum Clark Flanker England England
Jamie Gibson Flanker England England
Teimana Harrison Flanker England England
Ben Nutley Flanker England England
Tom Wood Flanker England England
Jon Fisher Number 8 England England
Sam Dickinson Number 8 England England
Player Position Union
Lee Dickson Scrum-half England England
Kahn Fotuali'i Scrum-half Samoa Samoa
Tom Kessell Scrum-half England England
J. J. Hanrahan Fly-half Ireland Ireland
Stephen Myler Fly-half England England
Luther Burrell Centre England England
Pat Howard Centre South Africa South Africa
George Pisi Centre Samoa Samoa
Tom Stephenson Centre England England
James Wilson Centre New Zealand New Zealand
Tom Collins Wing England England
Jamie Elliott Wing England England
George North Wing Wales Wales
Ken Pisi Wing Samoa Samoa
Ben Foden Fullback England England
Ahsee Tuala Fullback Samoa Samoa

Academy squad

Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.

Player Position Union
Reece Marshall Hooker England England
Matt Williams Hooker South Africa South Africa
Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi Prop England England
Alexander Moon Lock England England
Jordan Onojaife Lock England England
Josh Peters Lock England England
Alex Woolford Lock England England
Will Allman Flanker England England
Tim Cardall Flanker England England
Lewis Ludlam Flanker England England
Player Position Union
Alex Mitchell Scrum-half England England
Sam Olver Fly-half England England
Rory Hutchinson Centre England England
Harry Mallinder Centre England England
Howard Packman Wing England England
George Furbank Fullback England England

Coaching Staff

First team


  • Alan Dickens – Academy Manager
  • Dusty Hare – Academy Recruitment and Development Manager
  • Mark Hopley – Academy Coach
  • Ross Stewart – Elite Player Development Group Manager

Notable former players

Hall of Fame

The history of Northampton Saints is one filled with illustrious names. To recognise and honour its best players, the club established its Hall of Fame in 2004. To date 12 players have been inducted:




Club honours


Overall Stats

Seasons summary

Season Domestic League Domestic Cup European Cup
Competition Final position Points Competition Performance Competition Performance
2014–15 Premiership 1st 76 LV Cup Semi-Final ERCC Quarter-final
2013–14 Premiership 2nd (Champions) 78 LV Cup Runners Up 2013–14 Heineken Cup 2nd Pool A (Won Challenge Cup)
2012–13 Premiership 4th (Runners-Up) 65 LV Cup 2nd in pool 2012–13 Heineken Cup 2nd Pool D
2011–12 Premiership 4th 65 LV Cup Runners-Up 2011–12 Heineken Cup 3rd Pool A
2010–11 Premiership 4th 65 LV Cup 2nd in pool 2010–11 Heineken Cup Runners-up
2009–10 Premiership 2nd 71 LV Cup Winners 2009–10 Heineken Cup Quarter-final
2008–09 Premiership 8th 49 EDF Energy Cup Semi-final European Challenge Cup Winners
2007–08 Division One Champions 143 EDF Energy Trophy Winners Did Not Qualify Did Not Qualify
2006–07 Premiership 12th 33 EDF Energy Cup 4th in pool 2006–07 Heineken Cup Semi-final
2005–06 Premiership 6th 53 Powergen Cup 2nd in pool European Challenge Cup Quarter-final
2004–05 Premiership 11th 40 Powergen Cup N/A 2004–05 Heineken Cup Quarter-final
2003–04 Premiership 3rd 70 Powergen Cup N/A 2003–04 Heineken Cup 2nd Pool D
2002–03 Premiership 3rd 62 Powergen Cup Runners-up 2002–03 Heineken Cup Quarter-final
2001–02 Premiership 5th 56 Powergen Cup Runners-up 2001–02 Heineken Cup 4th Pool E
2000–01 Premiership 4th 59 Powergen Cup N/A 2000–01 Heineken Cup 4th Pool A
1999–00 Premiership 5th 35 Tetley Bitter Cup Runners-up 1999–2000 Heineken Cup Winners

See also


  1. "Glossary 2009/10". Retrieved 15 November 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "The Barwell Stand". Northampton Rugby Football Club. Retrieved 10 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Club records". Northampton Saints. Retrieved 16 May 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Saints history website". Retrieved 29 December 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Bolton, Paul. "Saints and the Army gather to honour fallen hero". Retrieved 9 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Mobbs Memorial Match promises to be poignant occasion". Retrieved 9 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Rugby Union | Leicester move out of sight". BBC News. 13 March 1999. Retrieved 20 December 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Northampton Saints, Retrieved 30 November 2010
  10. Pryor, Matthew (23 May 2009). "Northampton lift European Challenge Cup". The Times. London. Retrieved 26 May 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Hartley hit with 11 week ban". 25 May 2013. Retrieved 12 June 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Tigers power to tenth title as Hartley sees red". 25 May 2013. Retrieved 12 June 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Amlin Challenge Cup final: Bath 16-30 Northampton". 22 May 2014. Retrieved 2 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Premiership final: Saracens 20-24 Northampton Saints". 31 May 2014. Retrieved 2 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Aviva Premiership Final: Saracens 20 Northampton Saints 24". 31 May 2014. Retrieved 2 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "MANOA SHORTLISTED FOR RPA PLAYERS' PLAYER OF THE YEAR", Northampton Saints, 19 May 2014. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  17. Northampton forced to move Ulster tie to Milton Keynes – BBC Sport

External links