David Powell

David Powell

Years: 1963-1978
Position: Prop
Appearances: 370
England caps: 11
British and Irish Lions tours: Australia/New Zealand (1968)

David Powell is a Northampton Saints institution. Four years as captain, 15 as a player and 24 tries should be enough to earmark 'Piggy' as a club legend, but in recent years he has consolidated this by continuing to provide the present players and coaching staff with the best pitch in English club rugby.

Fate took more than a little hand in Powell's career. At the start of the 1965/66 season he was on the fringes of first-team selection having come to the Saints via Long Buckby and Rugby. But a shoulder dislocation by Roger Turnbull gave Powell an opportunity he grabbed with both hands - quite literally when he scored three tries in that October alone.

Dominant performances throughout the season caught the eye of the England selectors, and Powell was picked for his international debut against Wales. It was not a successful England campaign but Powell was again noticed and became the only English forward to be selected for the 1966 British Lions tour to New Zealand. A remarkable start to a remarkable career.

It was on this trip that Powell earned his nickname. He was rooming with Denzil Williams, known as 'Porky', and with their room known as 'The Sty' the Northampton prop quickly become 'Piggy'. It's a name that has stuck throughout the intervening 40 years.

Powell's training regime had included running up and down hills in heavy boots on his father's farm. And when he became captain in 1967/68 the same attitude was brought into team sessions. They hit the ground running that season and reeled off nine straight victories. With a prop as captain and tactician it was no surprise that the pattern of play revolved around the forwards. But Powell led by example and only missed three matches all season.

His international career lasted a mere 11 matches but his club career continued on and on. Powell remained on Saints' books until 1978, notching up 370 appearances in the process, and also had a stint coaching the side in the mid-1980s.

Powell is now as famous for the immaculate nature of the Franklin's Gardens surface as for his playing, and there is many a small child who knows him more as the scary shouting bloke telling them to get off the pitch than as the legend on it.