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Jim Mallinder

Jim Mallinder

Director of Rugby

Under the leadership of director of rugby Jim Mallinder, the Saints have gone from being in the second tier of English club rugby to a team considered as genuine Premiership and European contenders.

Trophies were put into the cabinet in each of the first three seasons Mallinder was in charge - the National League One and National Trophy double in 2007/08, the European Challenge Cup in 2008/09 and the LV= Cup in 2009/10. Furthermore, in 2009/10 the Saints finished second in the Premiership table, their highest position for a decade, and secured a first home play-off semi-final in the club's history. In addition to the Anglo-Welsh success, the Saints went further in the Heineken Cup than any other English team, departing the tournament in a fiercely contested quarter-final at Thomond Park.

In 2010/11, the Saints again reached the Premiership knockout stages, but it was in Europe that Mallinder's side almost produced the ultimate performance. The eventual Heineken Cup heartbreak was hard to take, but when put into perspective the disappointment only served to further highlight the impressive job Mallinder has done in under four years with the club.

Another final would follow in 2011/12 - the LV= Cup once more - and while that game with Leicester, along with an Aviva Premiership Rugby semi-final at Harlequins, would end in defeat it was another competitive season from an injury and internationally depleted Saints squad.

Despite plenty of expectation now being heaped upon the Saints by commentators Mallinder's attitude remains the same; each game at a time, work hard and what will come, will come.

Based on his background it isn't surprising that success has come to the Saints. Mallinder joined the club from the RFU, where he had guided England Under-21s to a Grand Slam and the Saxons to the Churchill Cup, beating the New Zealand Maori in the final. Prior to that he had taken Sale Sharks from 11th to second in the Premiership in a single season and led them to their first ever trophy, the 2005 Challenge Cup.

As a player he had been an uncompromising full back whose sheer size was complemented by speed and game understanding. However his England caps were limited to a pair won against Argentina in 1997, but as a club man he was a big part of Sale's resurgence and establishment in the top flight.