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John White: Read the Chairman’s programme notes

Northampton Saints chairman John White reflects on a very busy few weeks around cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens ahead of today’s Gallagher Premiership clash against Newcastle Falcons.

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 Gallagher Premiership match against Newcastle Falcons.

Today’s match is our seventh since September 24, so I wanted to take this opportunity to thank the players, coaches, and staff for their hard work, as well as our supporters for coming out and getting behind the Club, in what has been a very busy few weeks. 

Tuesday evening's win over Harlequins in the Premiership Rugby Cup was our third victory in six days, and so it really feels like we have some wind in our sails heading into today's clash. We have seen over the years that momentum is always a big factor in rugby; it works both ways, with teams on a winning run seemingly much harder to stop and vice versa, so hopefully we can continue to build with another triumph today.

Newcastle however are certainly no pushovers and always seem to provide us with a stern test here at the Gardens. While we recorded a league double over the Falcons last season, in years gone by our fixtures against them have been hard-fought with Newcastle winning six of the last ten league meetings between the two clubs. We will have to be at our best to overcome what will inevitably be a gritty line-up, which is also sprinkled with some stardust with the likes of Adam Radwan, Mateo Carreras and Matias Moroni all likely to feature.

It has once again been a busy week of news at the Club. I wanted to start with the announcement we made at the back end of last week, with Saints confirming that fly-half Dan Biggar would be moving on at the end of this season. Dan has been an incredible Saintsman; on and off the pitch, his contribution to the Club has been massive and it will certainly be sad to see him go. The reality of the Premiership at the moment is that, with a lower salary cap in place and a reduction of marquee players from two to one, difficult decisions have to be made in order to build a balanced and competitive squad for the future. Dan will depart in June with our very best wishes, but in the meantime, he still has several months remaining as a Saint and I know he is working harder than ever to ensure he goes out on a high at the end of the season.

No doubt you will also have seen that we have been able to bring another fly-half, Fin Smith, into the squad early following the weeks of disruption at Worcester Warriors. Fin was due to arrive at the Gardens next season, but being able to pick the brains of Dan Biggar and James Grayson for the remainder of this season will be invaluable both for him and for the Club moving forwards. I am sure you will join me in warmly welcoming Fin to Northampton Saints! I look forward to seeing what he can bring to the Black, Green and Gold jersey in the years ahead.

Finally, the third inductee of 2022 to the Club’s Hall of Fame was announced on Wednesday, with Steve Thompson joining Keith Barwell and Ian Hunter in this year’s cohort. We look forward to honouring them at our Hall of Fame Dinner on Thursday 10 November. There are still more inductees yet to be revealed and a few places available for this special event – to find out more or to book your place, please email [email protected].

But back to today's game, and I'm hoping that as well as watching a win for Saints (of course!), we might also be treated to a slightly less stressful encounter this afternoon than we were last Sunday! Scoring two last-gasp tries to beat Wasps in Coventry certainly got the pulse racing, but after our Premiership match the week beforehand against Harlequins also went down to the final play, I'm not sure my nerves can take another nailbiter today. Supporting Saints, as you all will know, can often be both exhilarating and frustrating at the same time and in equal measure!! But, it is certainly never boring, and no doubt our players will endeavour to entertain us all today once again.

Please get behind them, as you always do, as we look to keep our momentum going.

Enjoy the game.

John White

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