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John White: Read the Chairman’s programme notes

Northampton Saints chairman John White is looking forward to the side’s first Premiership Rugby Cup outing on home soil this evening as Saracens head to cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens. 

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

Good evening and a warm welcome back to cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens for tonight’s Premiership Rugby Cup clash against Saracens.

The fixtures certainly seem to be coming thick and fast at the moment, with this the second of three consecutive midweek matches in the Cup competition and Gallagher Premiership games continuing as normal at weekends. This stretch will definitely test the depth of our squad, but it has proved to be a fine opportunity to give absolutely every fit player in our group some game time with a long season ahead of us. Last week’s Cup opener at London Irish was a fine example of that; several more experienced members of the squad were able to get some minutes under their belts, some players made returns from injury, while a number of our Academy talents were able to pull on a Saints jersey for the first time in a competitive senior match. Of course, we want to win every game we’re involved in and to lose on the very final play was hugely disappointing, but the Cup competition is also about providing a platform for youngsters to thrive and develop – so no doubt we will see a similar approach from Saints tonight.

It has been a busy week of news at the Club, with seven of our players called into the senior England squad for their training camp on Monday and Tuesday in London. I wanted to extend my congratulations to all of those players for their inclusions, of which we are very proud, but particularly to Alex Coles for whom the camp marked a first involvement with England’s senior group. Alex is an intelligent and impressive young man, who has worked incredibly hard over the last couple of years to develop his game as much as he can. Last season he won the Club’s Breakthrough Player of the Year award and captained Saints in the Premiership Rugby Cup competition as well – no doubt his selection will inspire those in the Cup side tonight as they look to also put their best foot forward this season.

We were also delighted to confirm over the last week that England Women will be returning to the Gardens in the new year to play a Six Nations match in Northampton. We love hosting international rugby here at Saints, and seeing 10,000 people in the stands the last time the Red Roses came to town was absolutely fantastic. There is huge appetite for women’s rugby in our region and we are trying to do everything we can to nurture and grow the game as best we can. I hope we can top that attendance for the match against Italy in April, and inspire England to another thumping win after they beat New Zealand very handily at the Gardens last year! If you would like to purchase tickets for the match, they are available now from northamptonsaints.co.uk/redroses

But back to tonight’s match, and no doubt a stern test lies ahead of us. Whenever you line up against any Saracens team, you know they will be well-disciplined, confrontational, physical and accurate – a combination which has won them many trophies over the years. However, our players have been training hard in preparation for the game and will be keen to put on a show for you all on home soil. Thank you for your support of the team; we know midweek fixtures are a challenge for many supporters to attend, so we really do appreciate every one of you here this evening.

Enjoy the game.

John White

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