Northampton Saints can today confirm the signing of lock Chunya Munga ahead of the 2023/24 season.
The athletic, 120kg second row stands at 6’7” tall, and made 53 appearances in total for Irish (scoring two tries) while also representing England at Under-18s and Under-20s level – playing at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens against Ireland for the latter.
Munga, 22, arrives at Northampton from London Irish, following the Exiles filing for administration and suspension from the Gallagher Premiership last week.
“It’s been a challenging few weeks, but I’m very grateful and excited to be able to focus on playing rugby again and being within a team environment,” said Munga. “Saints have a great collective of young players who have grown up together at the Club, with a few senior boys in there to steer the way, which was really attractive to me.
“Speaking to Northampton’s coaching group also made me really excited to join Saints. Phil Dowson and James Craig have been fantastic to talk to, and I didn’t feel like there had been the same passionate interest from any other team to see me improve as a player as there was from them.
“The coaches did a full analysis on me before we met, which really took me aback because I felt their passion to see me get better, and that really is invaluable as a player.”Chunya Munga
“So, I’m very confident coming into Saints that I can put in all my energy into the team, and I will get the same back from the coaches and the playing group. It’s great to be part of a collective that are really pushing for the top end of the Premiership and to achieve something now. The journey ahead is really exciting.
“I want to take this opportunity to say that I cannot thank the coaches, players, on and off-field staff, and all the supporters at London Irish enough for everything they have given me. I couldn’t have got to this position without all of them, and while I am one of the lucky ones who has been able to find a new home straight away, to play 50 games for my boyhood club was a dream come true so I’m grateful to everyone who helped make it happen.”
Munga joined the London Irish Academy as a 14-year-old, progressing through the ranks with the Exiles and making his club debut against Bristol Bears in the 2019/20 Premiership Rugby Cup, before starting on his Gallagher Premiership debut against Saracens later that season.
He was called into the England training squad ahead of the Autumn Internationals in 2021, but is yet to be capped in Test rugby.
Saints’ Director of Rugby, Phil Dowson, added: “The thing that impressed us most about Chunya is that he’s an intelligent player who knows exactly what he needs to do to get better, and he knows that is a long-term process.
“He’s been well coached at London Irish by a couple of former Saints in Jon Fisher and Ross McMillan, and he’s certainly got the ability to be a standout second row in the years ahead. He’s very athletic and aggressive in the way that he plays, as well as a sharp line-out operator.”Phil Dowson, Director of Rugby
“Chunya’s got a lot of potential to improve, and he’s an ambitious guy who wants to win trophies and play international rugby – as all players do. Hopefully we can help him to realise those goals in a Saints shirt.”