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Northampton Saints are a professional English rugby union club from Northamptonmarker, England. Northampton play in green, black and gold colours. They play their home games at Franklin's Gardensmarker which has a capacity of 13,600.

In the 2007/8 season, the team played in England's second tier, National Division One, but has returned to the Guinness Premiership for the 2008/9 season, having clinched the ND1 championship with their victory over Exeter Chiefs on March 22, 2008.

The Northampton Saints were formed in 1880. The club won their first major trophy when they defeated Munster in the 1999-2000 Heineken Cup final.

History

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 who was a resident of the nearby village of Milton Malsormarker. 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 Northamptonmarker 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 he 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 sadly killed in battle, leading his battalion over the top by kicking a rugby ball into No-Mans 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 has been played every year since 1921 between the Barbarians and East Midlands at Franklin's Gardens.

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 Twickenhammarker 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 youngsters like Matt Dawson and Nick Beal came through the ranks.

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".

The professional era

Bruce Reihana
1995, rugby union turned professional and the club was taken over by current chairman 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 [66605]. However they became the second English club to win the Heineken Cup (emulating Bath's success in the 1998-99 competition), beating Munster 9-8 in the final [66606]. 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.

In 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 Waspsmarker, 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.

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.

On 28 April 2007, despite a 27-22 victory over London Irish at Franklin's Gardens, Northampton were relegated from the Guinness 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 was demoted to skills and backs coach.

On 9 June 2007, Northampton announced that England Saxons coach Jim Mallinder will become 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 Stadiummarker to win the EDF trophy. On 26 April 2008 they ended their National Division One season undefeated with 30 wins from 30 games.

In the 2008–09 season, the Saints easily avoided the drop, finishing eighth on the table. They also lifted the European Challenge Cup, defeating French side Bourgoin 15–3 in the final on 22 May 2009 at The Stoopmarker in London.The victory gave them a place in the 2009–10 Heineken Cup.

Current Standings

Players

Ins and outs for 2009–2010 season

In

Out

Current Squad

For 2009/10 Season

 


 


Current England Elite Squad



Current England Saxons Squad



Internationally Capped Players



International Caps in the club's history



Club honours



References

External links




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