Operations director John Steele and head coach Wayne Smith have secured contracts for Wales and London Irish flanker/lock Steve Williams, Spanish wing/full-back Oriol Ripol and former Northampton Saints flanker Simon Hepher, who has returned from a two-year stint in France.
Williams, aged 31, has earned 20 caps for Wales following his debut against Tonga in 1994. He has been capped internationally in all the back-row positions and at lock, and since joining London Irish two seasons ago has won many Man of the Match awards. Williams was part of the Powergen Cup-winning squad that beat Saints in April and since signing for Saints has been selected to tour with Wales in South Africa.
Ripol, aged 26, was the highest try scorer for Rotherham last season and signed a two-year deal with Saints today. He represented Spain in the 1999 Rugby World Cup before he played for Bridgend in the Welsh/Scottish League.
Hepher, young brother of Saints fly-half Ali, was among the first recruits of the Northampton Saints Academy, alongside hooker Steve Thompson and prop Kelvin Todd. He played in the victorious Heineken Cup final of 2000 before playing rugby for Colomiers in France.
Smith said: "We are pleased to welcome back Simon to Franklin's Gardens and new recruits Steve and Oriol. All three players will bring experience and flair to the squad for the 2002/03 season.
"With these players, we are hoping to address some key areas that required improvement last season, specifically pace in our back three and aerial skills at lineout and kick off.
Steele said: "Our recruitment programme is still on-going and we still are well advanced in the recruitment of an international back."
Among the leavers from last season's Northampton Saints squad are Olivier Brouzet (Montferrand), Luca Martin (Unknown), Simon Webster (Edinburgh Rugby), Steve Brotherstone (Newcastle Falcons), Andy Rennick (Borders) Tom Kirk (Bedford) and Craig Moir (Borders).