An important piece of Northampton Saints history will be made on Saturday afternoon, as two of the Club’s biggest stars – Courtney Lawes and Dan Biggar – face off as captains of England and Wales respectively at Twickenham.
In skippering their two countries against each other, the duo become only the fourth pair of players from the same Club to lead out rival teams in the same Six Nations game*.
Back in 2005, Toulouse’s Gareth Thomas and Fabien Pelous captained Wales and France, while Sergio Parisse (Italy) and Pascal Pape (France) added to the list while teammates at Stade Francais in 2013 and 2014.
Meanwhile, in Five Nations history it happened twice – all the way back in 1913 and 1914 – as Liverpool supplied the captains for Scotland (Freddie Turner) vs Ireland (Dickie Lloyd) and then England (Ronald Poulton-Palmer) vs Ireland (Lloyd).
And the significance of the moment is not lost on Biggar, who is also primed to earn his 98th Wales cap in the showdown at HQ.
“It is a very proud moment for the Club, in terms of us both captaining in a huge game on Saturday,” said Biggar.
“Courts will probably be the more relaxed of the two of us on Saturday afternoon, I would imagine. His style will be a lot more laid-back than mine.
“It’s a really special moment. I’ve played with him over the last four years, and it will be really exciting on Saturday.
“The biggest thing I’ve noticed with Courts over the last few years is that when he speaks, people tend to listen. That is a really positive trait to have in a captain and a senior player.
“You can have a lot people who speak a lot of the time, but it can be white noise. Certainly from my experience from playing with Courtney, when he has something to say people tend to tune in a little bit more closely and really focus in.
“Neither of us change the way we play because of becoming captain. It’s very much trying to lead by example and doing our jobs as players before perhaps thinking of the captaincy roles.”
Lawes meanwhile returns for the Red Rose for the first time in this year’s Six Nations Championship following a spell on the sidelines nursing a head injury.
The 33-year-old forward is relishing being back amongst the action this week, and looking forward to seeing a familiar face for the pre-game pleasantries.
Lawes said: “It’s awesome and it’s great for the Club, for Dan and I to be able to play against each other.
“I’m looking forward to the banter with the coin toss and stuff like that, and I’m really looking forward to playing against a good friend.”Courtney Lawes, England Captain
“I feel really good. Although it was frustrating [to miss a few matches], I was just really relieved that my head stuff wasn’t serious and I just had to take a bit of time to recover from it.
“I've been able to train, I’m feeling strong and I'm raring to go.”
Biggar and Lawes have 187 caps for their countries and eight British and Irish Lions Test match appearances between them.
But asked if he had been in touch with Lawes this week, Biggar said: “Only earlier on in the week. I am actually on the scrounge for a couple of tickets!
“It’s funny when England versus Wales comes around, everyone comes out of the woodwork and wants a few tickets! He will be able to get a few more than me, and I am sure I will touch base with him after the game.”
*Statistics provided by Stu Farmer.