Northampton Saints
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Northampton Saints

Northampton Saints
Northampton saints crest.png
Northampton Rugby Football Club
UnionEast Midlands RFU
Saints, Jimmies[1]
Founded1880; 141 years ago (1880)
LocationNorthampton, England
Franklin's Gardens (Capacity: 15,200[2])
ChairmanJohn White
CEOMark Darbon
Chris Boyd
Lewis Ludlam and
Ron Jacobs (470)
Paul Grayson (2,786)[3]
Teddy Cook (219)
English Premiership
Official website

Northampton Saints (officially Northampton Rugby Football Club) is a professional rugby union club from Northampton, England. They play in Premiership Rugby, England's top division of rugby. As of February 2020, Northampton are one of the most popular rugby teams in the world.

They were formed in 1880 as "Northampton St. James", which gave them the nickname Saints from the 1880s. The team play their home games at Franklin's Gardens, in the west of the town, which has a capacity of 15,250 and play in black, green, and gold colours.

At the conclusion of 2019-20 Premiership Rugby, Saints finished the season in a disappointing 8th place, but which entitled them to compete in the 2020-21 European Rugby Champions Cup. The current Director of Rugby is Chris Boyd, who was appointed in 2018.

Northampton has won six major titles. They were European Champions in 2000 and English Champions in 2014. They have also won the secondary European Rugby Challenge Cup twice, in 2009 and 2014, the Anglo Welsh Cup in 2010, and, most recently, the inaugural Premiership Rugby Cup in 2019. They have also won the Second Division title three times; in 1990, 1996 and 2008.

Their biggest rivals are Leicester Tigers. "The East Midlands Derby" is one of the fiercest rivalries in English rugby union.[4][5]


Early years

The Northampton Saints posing with The Original All Blacks in 1905

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".[6] 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[clarification needed] 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.[7] 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.[8]

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 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

Bruce Reihana

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.[9]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.[10]

In recent times the club narrowly survived relegation from the Premiership, after the coach (Alan Solomons) was sacked in the middle of the 2004-05 season. The coaching role was passed onto the former first teammates Budge Pountney and Paul Grayson to tide the team over. They had a slow start in the 2005-06 season, but continued to stay mainly unbeaten after the New Year. Budge retired at the start of the 2006-07 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 (2008-2014)

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.[11] The victory gave them a place in the 2009-10 Heineken Cup.

In March 2010, the Saints won the Anglo-Welsh Cup final against Gloucester 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.

Northampton finished fourth in the 2010-11 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.[]

At the beginning of the 2011-12 season, with nine players out for the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, Saints were knocked out of the 2011-12 Heineken Cup in Stadium MK by Munster. 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.[] In 2011-12, the Saints reached a third successive Premiership semi-final and a second Anglo-Welsh Cup final in three seasons.

After winning their first five matches of 2012-13, the Saints were pulled back into the pack in the Premiership and exited both the Anglo-Welsh and Heineken Cups, despite ending Ulster's four-year unbeaten home European record just before Christmas 2012.[] The team finished fourth in the league, and after beating Saracens in the semi-final reached their first ever Premiership final, where they lost 37-17 to Leicester.[12][13] The 2013 season finished with seven players being taken to Argentina as part of the England squad, including Tom Wood as captain.

In the 2013-14 season, the club finished second in the league behind Saracens with a total of 78 points. Despite finishing second in the table, they went on to win the 2013-14 English Premiership, defeating table-topping Saracens 24-20, after 100 minutes of rugby due to the game going to extra time.[14][15] They also reached the final of the 2013-14 European Challenge Cup, which they won by beating Bath 16-30, with the match being played at Cardiff Arms Park in Wales.[16]


Following the most arguably successful season in the club's history, the Saints finished atop of the Rugby Premiership with 76 points. However, they were undone in the 2014-15 Premiership Rugby semi-finals, losing out 24-29 to Saracens on 23 May 2015.[17]

After this, a couple disappointing seasons followed, with on-pitch results leading to a stagnation of the club overall, and on 12 December 2017, largely successful Director of Rugby Jim Mallinder was ultimately released from the club as a result after spending more than 10 years at the club.[18] On 29 December 2017, Australian coach Alan Gaffney joined the club on an interim basis until the end of the 2017-18 Premiership Rugby campaign, who worked alongside Alan Dickens at the helm.[19] The team finished 9th overall that year with a points tally of 43, but ultimately avoided relegation and confirmed their place in the 2018-19 Premiership Rugby season.


A new era was confirmed at the club, when it was announced on 29 January 2018, that Hurricanes boss Chris Boyd would link up with the Saints for the 2018-19 Premiership Rugby campaign.[20] The announcement of Boyd was a huge coup for the club, due to the coach's high level profile, and success in Southern Hemisphere Rugby, which included the 2016 Super Rugby title with the Hurricanes. In Boyd's first season at the club, the Northampton Saints would go on to lift the Premiership Rugby Cup, by defeating Saracens 23-9 in front of a home-final crowd, which took place on 17 March 2019.[21] The Saints also secured a top 4 finish for the first time since 2015, and Boyd's men would go on to face the Exeter Chiefs in the Premiership Rugby semi-final play-off system.


Franklin's Gardens

The Burrda Stand (2007)

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 15,250 people. The stadium also has 40 corporate boxes. Each can hold from 8 to 24 people. The four stands are: Tetley's Stand; Elite Insurance South Stand; Church's Stand; and the new Barwell Stand (which replaced the Sturtridge Pavilion). 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 Premiership Rugby season, and will take the capacity at Franklin's Gardens up to 15,249.

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

Stadium MK


The club played a 2011 Heineken Cup quarter final match against Ulster at Stadium MK in Milton Keynes, because Franklin's Gardens was too small to meet the minimum 15,000 seats demanded by the European Rugby Cup tournament organisers.[22] The Saints won the match, beating Ulster 23-13, witnessed by a crowd of over 21,000. The Saints also played their semi-final there the same year, beating Perpignan 23-7. The Saints then hosted one Premiership match a season at the stadium between 2014-15 and 2016-17; most recently, an Easter Sunday match against Saracens on 16 April 2017, narrowly losing 25-27.


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 Sport, a Swiss sports apparel company. Northampton 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 horizontal green, black and gold stripes of the same size. It was one of the most popular kit releases of Saints History. Starting in the 2016/17 season Macron are Saints' kit supplier, signing a 10-year deal with the club.

Current kit

The kit is supplied by Macron. On the front of the shirt, Toolstation is at the centre while Elite Insurance Company appears on the top left while StubHub appears on the left and right of the collar. Hankook appears on the left sleeve. On the back of the shirt, Kubota appears at the top while GRS appears on top of the squad number while The University of Northampton appears on the bottom; Carlsberg on the match day shorts.


Saints' main rivals are Leicester Tigers, whom they face in the East Midlands Derby. Over a number of recent years, the Saints have developed a rivalry with Saracens, largely due to the increased number of fixtures the two teams have performed against one another in, the most notable fixture being the 2013-14 Premiership Rugby Final, in which the Saints ran out victors. Since Wasps relocation to the Ricoh Arena in Coventry, the two teams now also possess a form of local rivalry with one another.

Club honours & achievements

Northampton Saints

Northampton Wanderers (Reserves)

Current squad

The Northampton Saints squad for the 2020-21 season is:[23][a][b]

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

Academy squad

The Northampton Saints academy squad is:[24]

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

Club staff

First Team Coaching


  • Mark Hopley - Academy Head Coach
  • Jake Sharp - Academy Skills Coach
  • Alex O'Dowd - Academy Programme Manager
  • Will Parkin - Junior Academy Manager
  • James Craig - DPP Manager

Notable former players

British and Irish Lions  British and Irish Lions flag.svg 

Ian Hunter England

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 21 players have been inducted:



Overall stats

Seasons summary

Domestic League Domestic Cup Domestic Trophy European Cup
Season Competition Final Position Points Play-Offs Competition Performance Competition Performance Competition Performance
1987-88 Courage League Division 2 12th 13 N/A John Player Cup 3rd round No competition N/A No competition N/A
1988-89 Courage League Division 2 3rd 13 N/A Pilkington Cup 3rd round No competition N/A No competition N/A
1989-90 Courage League Division 2 1st (P) 19 N/A Pilkington Cup Semi-final No competition N/A No competition N/A
1990-91 Courage League Division 1 9th 11 N/A Pilkington Cup Runners-up No competition N/A No competition N/A
1991-92 Courage League Division 1 3rd 19 N/A Pilkington Cup 4th round No competition N/A No competition N/A
1992-93 Courage League Division 1 4th 16 N/A Pilkington Cup Semi-final No competition N/A No competition N/A
1993-94 Courage League Division 1 5th 18 N/A Pilkington Cup 5th round No competition N/A No competition N/A
1994-95 Courage League Division 1 10th (R) 12 N/A Pilkington Cup Quarter-final No competition N/A No competition N/A
1995-96 Courage League Division 2 1st (P) 36 N/A Pilkington Cup 4th round No competition N/A No English teams N/A
1996-97 Courage League Division 1 8th 20 N/A Pilkington Cup Quarter-final No competition N/A Challenge Cup Quarter-final
1997-98 Allied Dunbar Premiership 8th 19 N/A Tetley's Bitter Cup Semi-final C&G Cup Quarter-final Challenge Cup 2nd in pool
1998-99 Allied Dunbar Premiership 2nd 38 N/A Tetley's Bitter Cup 5th round C&G Cup Quarter-final No English teams N/A
1999-00 Allied Dunbar Premiership 5th 35 N/A Tetley's Bitter Cup Runners-up No competition N/A Heineken Cup Champions
2000-01 Zurich Premiership 4th 59 N/A Tetley's Bitter Cup Quarter-final No competition N/A Heineken Cup 4th in pool
2001-02 Zurich Premiership 5th 56 N/A Powergen Cup Runners-up Powergen Shield Not eligible Heineken Cup 4th in pool
2002-03 Zurich Premiership 3rd 62 Semi-final Powergen Cup Runners-up Powergen Shield Not eligible Heineken Cup Quarter-final
2003-04 Zurich Premiership 3rd 70 Semi-final Powergen Cup 6th round Powergen Shield Not eligible Heineken Cup 2nd in pool
2004-05 Zurich Premiership 11th 40 DNQ Powergen Cup Quarter-final Powergen Shield Not eligible Heineken Cup Quarter-final
2005-06 Guinness Premiership 6th 53 DNQ Powergen Cup 2nd in pool EDF Energy Trophy Not eligible Challenge Cup Quarter-final
2006-07 Guinness Premiership 12th (R) 33 DNQ EDF Energy Cup 4th in pool EDF Energy Trophy Not eligible Heineken Cup Semi-final
2007-08 National Division One 1st (P) 143 N/A EDF Energy Cup Not qualified EDF Energy Trophy Champions Not qualified N/A
2008-09 Guinness Premiership 8th 49 DNQ EDF Energy Cup Semi-final EDF Energy Trophy Not eligible Challenge Cup Champions
2009-10 Guinness Premiership 2nd 71 Semi-final LV= Cup Champions British and Irish Cup Not eligible Heineken Cup Quarter-final
2010-11 Aviva Premiership 4th 65 Semi-final LV= Cup 2nd in pool British and Irish Cup Not eligible Heineken Cup Runners-up
2011-12 Aviva Premiership 4th 65 Semi-final LV= Cup Runners-up British and Irish Cup Not eligible Heineken Cup 3rd in pool
2012-13 Aviva Premiership 4th 65 Runners-up LV= Cup 2nd in pool British and Irish Cup Not eligible Heineken Cup 2nd in pool
2013-14 Aviva Premiership 2nd 78 Champions LV= Cup Runners-up British and Irish Cup Not eligible Challenge Cup* Champions*
2014-15 Aviva Premiership 1st 76 Semi-final LV= Cup Semi-final British and Irish Cup Not eligible Champions Cup Quarter-final
2015-16 Aviva Premiership 5th 60 DNQ No competition N/A British and Irish Cup Not eligible Champions Cup Quarter-final
2016-17 Aviva Premiership 7th 52 DNQ Anglo-Welsh Cup 2nd in pool British and Irish Cup Not eligible Champions Cup 4th in pool
2017-18 Aviva Premiership 9th 43 DNQ Anglo-Welsh Cup Semi-final British and Irish Cup Not eligible Champions Cup 4th in pool
2018-19 Gallagher Premiership 4th 56 Semi-final Premiership Cup Champions Championship Cup Not eligible Challenge Cup Quarter-final
2019-20 Gallagher Premiership 8th 42 DNQ Premiership Cup 4th in pool Championship Cup Not eligible Champions Cup Quarter-final

Gold background denotes champions
Silver background denotes runners-up
Pink background denotes relegated

* After dropping into the competition from the Champions Cup/Heineken Cup

See also


  1. ^ Nick Isiekwe joins Northampton Saints on a season-long loan from Saracens for the 2020-21 season
  2. ^ Alex Seville signs a short-term loan from Gloucester for remainder of the 2019-20 season


  1. ^ "Glossary 2009/10". Retrieved 2011.
  2. ^ "The Barwell Stand". Northampton Rugby Football Club. Retrieved 2015.
  3. ^ "Club records". Northampton Saints. Retrieved 2013.
  4. ^ "Northampton Saints v Leicester Tigers, Premiership semi-final: Gloves off for rugby's biggest grudge match". The Daily Telegraph. 15 May 2014. Retrieved 2017.
  5. ^ "The 12 biggest rugby rivalries on the planet". Wales Online. 11 March 2016. Retrieved 2017.
  6. ^ "Saints history website". Retrieved 2013.
  7. ^ Bolton, Paul. "Saints and the Army gather to honour fallen hero". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2014.
  8. ^ "Mobbs Memorial Match promises to be poignant occasion". Rugby Football Union. Archived from the original on 14 December 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  9. ^ "Rugby Union | Leicester move out of sight". BBC News. 13 March 1999. Retrieved 2010.
  10. ^ Northampton Saints, Archived 8 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 30 November 2010
  11. ^ Pryor, Matthew (23 May 2009). "Northampton lift European Challenge Cup". The Times. London. Retrieved 2009.
  12. ^ "Hartley hit with 11-week ban". ESPN. 25 May 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  13. ^ "Tigers power to tenth title as Hartley sees red". ESPN. 25 May 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  14. ^ "Premiership final: Saracens 20-24 Northampton Saints". BBC. 31 May 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  15. ^ "Aviva Premiership Final: Saracens 20 Northampton Saints 24". 31 May 2014. Archived from the original on 3 June 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  16. ^ "Amlin Challenge Cup final: Bath 16-30 Northampton". BBC. 22 May 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  17. ^ "Saracens send Saints crashing out of play-offs". ESPN. 23 May 2015. Retrieved 2019.
  18. ^ "Jim Mallinder: Northampton Saints sack director of rugby". BBC Sport. 12 December 2017. Retrieved 2019.
  19. ^ Gerard, Meagher (29 December 2017). "Northampton appoint Alan Gaffney as interim coach to end of season". The Guardian. Retrieved 2019.
  20. ^ "Rugby Union Today: Saints appoint Chris Boyd". Planet Rugby. 29 January 2018. Retrieved 2019.
  21. ^ "Premiership Rugby Cup Final: Northampton beat Saracens with three first-half tries". BBC Sport. 17 March 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  22. ^ "Northampton forced to move Ulster tie to Milton Keynes". BBC Sport. 24 January 2011. Retrieved 2019.
  23. ^ "Northampton Saints confirm playing squad from July 1". Northampton Saints. Retrieved 2020.
  24. ^ "Northampton Saints confirm playing squad from July 1". Northampton Saints. 1 July 2020.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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