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John White: Read the Chairman’s programme notes

Northampton Saints chairman John White reflects on a busy week at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens, and the return of competitive rugby to the ground ahead of today’s Premiership Rugby Cup clash against Cambridge.

Read John’s welcome and more in today’s official matchday programme, on sale around the ground and HERE for £3.50...

Good afternoon and a very warm welcome back to cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens for today’s Premiership Rugby Cup tie against Cambridge.

After a long preseason, it felt great to get back to competitive matches last weekend in the opening round of this tournament. While the result in Ealing clearly wasn’t what we were hoping for, this tournament is all about providing an opportunity for the next generation of Saints to show what they can do. Indeed, 15 of the 23 players involved were aged 22 or under, and to see seven players make their competitive debuts, with four of those currently within our Academy set-up, was fantastic. Huge congratulations to them all for a milestone achievement in their fledgling careers!

It is so important for the Club that we take advantage of the Cup competition to give our young players the experience of playing top-level rugby. If you look back to 2019, when we lifted the trophy, the squad that day was packed with starlets who have gone on to become crucial players for Northampton and play week in, week out in the Premiership – Alex Mitchell, George Furbank, Fraser Dingwall, Rory Hutchinson, Alex Moon, Lewis Ludlam and the list goes on. So, it’s vital that we continue to invest in our future during this competition (while also ensuring we take a fully-fit first-team squad into the opening rounds of the Premiership), and it is brilliant to see another line-up packed with youth today.

On the opposite end of the experience spectrum, it was special last weekend to see Courtney Lawes lead England to a stunning Rugby World Cup win over Argentina, with Alex Mitchell playing brilliantly and Lewis Ludlam catching the eye off the bench as well. We will of course be following their progress with interest, in addition to Fiji’s Sam Matavesi and Temo Mayanavanua who were unlucky to get edged out by Wales on Sunday. We wish them all well tomorrow as England face Japan and Fiji take on Australia.

Off the field, life at the Club is as busy as ever. On Tuesday, we announced another partnership renewal with T-REX Tape, which follows the renewals of both Sportsbreaks.com and Michael Jones Jeweller in recent weeks. We have also begun new relationships with ISEKI and Acti+ this summer, and all of these deals are incredibly important as we look to build meaningful partnerships which will make a significant impact on the Club over the long term.

This week also saw places for the Club’s 2014 anniversary dinner, celebrating the achievements of the double-winning Saints squad ten years on, go on sale. This is set to be a truly special night on Thursday 8 February, with the majority of the Northampton side from that year already signed on to attend and remember what was arguably the greatest year in the Club’s history. For more information, or to book your spots now, please CLICK HERE.

You may also have seen the exciting news that a new behind-the-scenes documentary, which chronicles the final weeks of the 2022/23 season, will be hitting TV screens on Amazon Prime next month. After our run to the play-offs, Northampton Saints will be one of four clubs featured heavily in the two-part series – and I urge you to ink the release date (October 12) into your diaries and tune in, as it is a fascinating watch!

But back to today’s game, and clearly it is important for us to get our season up and running with our first win on home soil. A number of our players have represented Cambridge in recent years on loan from the Academy, and all of them have come back deeply impressed with the quality of the set-up at Grantchester Road. But I am confident that with a few more senior heads mixed in with our young guns today, Saints can deliver a performance we can all savour.

Enjoy the match – and come on you Saints!

John White

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