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Boyd: Saints ship is ‘in good hands’ for the future

Outgoing Director of Rugby Chris Boyd insisted the future of Northampton Saints is in good hands, with the Kiwi coach stepping away from his role at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens this summer.

While he had hoped his time at the Club would end at Twickenham, last Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership semi-final defeat away at Leicester Tigers proved to be Boyd’s last game in charge of the men in Black, Green and Gold.

Northampton threatened to topple their bitter East Midlands rivals – who had led the league standings from start to finish this season – for long periods of the match, but ultimately were edged out in the final 20 minutes of the game.

Boyd will be replaced at Saints next term by new Director of Rugby Phil Dowson and Head Coach Sam Vesty, but is not walking off into the sunset just yet as he stays on at the Club in a consultancy capacity.

And while he is proud of his achievements in four seasons in Northampton, Boyd could not help but wish his side had gone one step further.

“I tried to not think about the fact that it could be the last game of rugby that I would coach before the game,” he said. “I deeply hoped there would be another game to go this coming weekend.

“I’ve fantastically enjoyed my four years in Northampton, it’s been amazing.”

Chris Boyd

“It feels a little bit now like there’s unfinished business, but the ship’s in good hands both from a coaching perspective and from the players’ point of view.

“There’s a lot to be positive about but I wish we’d got some silverware this season to show for it.”

Tommy Freeman crossed for Saints’ only try of the afternoon at Mattioli Woods Welford Road, and while that effort was not enough to win the game, it was a significant milestone for Northampton as it was their 100th score in the Premiership this season.

That eclipsed the Club’s previous best tally of 85 (set during the 1998/99 campaign), with Boyd’s Northampton side producing some spectacular running rugby during the last few rounds of league fixtures in particular – and the Kiwi is confident that despite losing out to a more conservative side in Leicester, this formula will bear fruit in the near future.

He said: “I discussed with the other coaches before the game that it would be a really interesting test of whether the blueprint that we are trying to play to works against a side that plays a more traditional, northern hemisphere style of rugby.

“Could we get a reward from that type of game and stay committed to our philosophy, or would we need to tweak the balance of our side? 

“I think we saw enough to convince us that with a little bit more experience and a little bit more accuracy, this team can be competitive with anybody.”

Chris Boyd

“There’s room for optimism, but of course we lost the game so at the moment it’s very disappointing and frustrating for everyone in the squad.”

Freeman’s try and three penalties from the boots of Dan Biggar and James Grayson handed Saints a slender 14-13 lead just before the hour mark, but it was a number of missed chances to score in the first 40 minutes that ultimately came back to bite Saints.

“That was critical really because if we’d have nailed one or two of the opportunities we created in the first half, then we would have created a different game,” added Boyd.

“With a bit of scoreboard pressure they would have had to play differently, but as it was we didn’t take those chances and it got away from us in the end with a couple of mistakes and the yellow card.

“The process we went through in the first 40 minutes just did not reap us the reward that we’d hoped for – and if it had, it would have changed the way the game transpired and we might have had a different outcome.

“We have to be a little bit more streetwise, and 5% better in a few areas, but by and large for long parts of the game the defence, set piece and breakdown all stood up. We just couldn’t finish them off.”

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