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The Mobbs Match: Proving ground for future stars

Will Hooley, Alex Waller and Semesa Rokoduguni all starred in the 2012 Mobbs Match at the Gardens © www.atsportphoto.com/Getty Images

Fixture News The Mobbs Match: Proving ground for future stars

Those who were at the last Mobbs Memorial Match at Franklin's Gardens will almost certainly remember a thrilling game of rugby decided by Will Hooley's touchline conversion. Some will also recall players from that 27-25 result, Hooley included, who have gone on to make a name for themselves both from the Saints and the Army XVs.

There's every chance that a game played to honour one of the club's legends could well have helped mould a couple more future Hall of Famers at the Saints.

ALEX WALLER
PROP
AGE 24
SAINTS APPS 114 (8 TRIES)
HONOURS ENGLAND SAXONS

He may only have been 22 at the time, but Alex Waller already had a half century of first team appearances under his belt when he stepped out for the Mobbs Memorial Match in 2012.

That haul included an impressive appearance from the bench in the Heineken Cup final, but while he was a regular replacement for Soane Tonga’uiha during the 2011/12 campaign, a young Waller used Wanderers and other Saints games - like the Mobbs - to top up his game time in one of rugby’s toughest positions.

With Tonga’uiha having moved on last summer, the loose head needed no further invitation to stamp his mark on the no.1 shirt and dismantled Lions tight-heads Adam Jones and Matt Stevens in consecutive weeks last October.

As well as joining the 100 club at the Gardens, Waller’s outstanding form both in the set piece and loose was recognised by an England Saxons call-up and debut in February.

A remarkable run of 80 straight appearances in black, green and gold was only stemmed when Alex was rested for an LV= Cup tie at London Irish – younger brother and another to feature in the 2012 Mobbs Match, Ethan, coming into the side.

TOM COLLINS
WING
AGE 19
SAINTS APPS 12 (1 TRY)
HONOURS ENGLAND U20

Another of the try scorers from the 2012 Mobbs Match, Tom Collins was only 17-years-old at the time, but already one with a bright future at the club.

So young was Collins at the time, he actually remains part of the Senior Academy setup at Franklin’s Gardens today, even if 2013/14 has been a breakthrough season for the exciting winger.

The Mobbs Match proved a springboard for Collins to see more and more senior action in Saints colours with the Wanderers and a first team debut came some eight months later in an LV= Cup meeting with Gloucester.

He’d have to wait until the start of the current campaign for another chance, but it was one he would grasp with both hands.

Having performed brilliantly in the famous win in Dublin and scored his first try against Worcester, Collins is fast establishing himself among the first team at the Saints.

WILL HOOLEY
FLY HALF
AGE 20
SAINTS APPS 4 (10 PTS)
HONOURS ENGLAND U20

After showing remarkable nerve to kick the game winning conversion in the 2012 Mobbs Memorial Match, just 18 at the time, Will Hooley’s progression to the first team is the most recent success story from the 2012 squad.

While he has had to wait a little longer, the fly half’s rise has been no less impressive as an assured debut against Saracens showed.

Dual registration with Moseley played a crucial role in readying Hooley for senior action with the Saints and in the LV= Cup semi-final he also showed versatility and tenacity, covering at inside centre and making a match high 12 tackles.

A Junior World Champion with England Under-20, Hooley will be hoping for more chances to deputise for Stephen Myler as the season reaches its business end.

SEMESA ROKODUGUNI
WING/CENTRE
AGE 26
BATH APPS 19 (7 TRIES)
HONOURS ENGLAND SAXONS

It’s not just the Saints, nor particularly young players, that the 2012 Mobbs Memorial Match showcased as the electric Semesa Rokoduguni has proven.

Even before his emphatic score looked to have handed the Army victory, the Fijian-born flyer had been the star of the evening in red. Having followed that performance up with a hat-trick in the Army versus Navy clash at Twickenham it came as no surprise that professional rugby came calling six months later in the shape of Bath.

He has been an unrivalled success, Rokoduguni one of the Premiership’s leading metre makers and defence beaters as well as scoring some brilliant tries for the west country club.

Such contributions inevitably caught the eye of the England selectors and Rokoduguni made his Saxons debut in February’s draw against Scotland.

CHRIS BUDGEN
PROP
AGE 41
SAINTS APPS 134 (6 TRIES)

The final word has to go to former Saints favourite ‘chicken’, who turned the theme of the game on its head by being a Saints star of the past to feature in the 2012 Mobbs Match.

An Exeter Chief at the time, Budgen returned to the club where he made 134 appearances over seven years in Army colours and received a suitably warm welcome from the Gardens crowd.

This year's Mobbs Memorial fixture between the Saints and the British Army is being played on Wednesday, March 19th. What's more, the gates to Franklin's Gardens are being thrown open for the fixture, welcoming one and all from Northamptonshire and beyond to honour the legendary Edgar Mobbs.

Donations will be taken on the gates with all proceeds going to the charitable aims of the Mobbs Memorial Trust - details of which can be found HERE.

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