Curtis Langdon has endured a rollercoaster couple of years that has seen him make his England debut, lose his job, and play abroad before becoming one of Northampton Saints’ key summer signings heading into 2023/24 season.
For the second successive summer, Langdon found himself at pastures new adapting to a fresh set of teammates, with a different badge on his chest and in a different area of the country.
Wind back the clock a year and the hooker had swapped the security of Sale Sharks (where he’d spent six years) to follow Steve Diamond down to Sixways and play his part in the resurgence of Worcester Warriors.
He bagged a try on his debut after arriving from the bench against former club London Irish in Round One of the 2022/23 Gallagher Premiership season. But by then dark clouds had gathered over the West Midlands club after it was served with a winding-up petition for unpaid tax by HM Revenue and Customs.
Just three games into his new adventure and 14 months after making his senior England debut against the USA, Langdon suddenly found himself out of work as Worcester were suspended from the Premiership before being liquidated.
“It was different looking back on it all,” the 26-year-old said. “I moved down to Worcester from Sale and it didn’t go how I expected.
“I really enjoyed the first three games of the season, we had a good squad there and I was excited about how the season could go.
“But then liquidation happened, and it was a tough period. It took a while for players to find new jobs. Same with staff, which was obviously very tough to see.”
Six weeks after playing his final Warriors match at home to Newcastle Falcons, Langdon found himself at a raucous Stade Mayol in the south of France preparing to face a Toulon side boasting global superstars of the game, Sergio Parisse and Mathieu Bastareaud.
Montpellier had come calling with a deal to the end of the season, presenting the opportunity to play Top 14 and Heineken Champions Cup rugby.
“I think I was probably one of the fortunate ones,” Langdon recalled. “I was able to get an opportunity out in Montpellier pretty quickly and I didn’t miss that many weeks of rugby or many months of pay either, which was obviously something some of the lads were missing.
“I really enjoyed it looking back now, I got to experience a lot, going out playing in the Top 14, experiencing a different brand of rugby and a different culture of rugby as well.
“It was good to be able to experience that and come back to the Premiership now with those experiences.”
Three months into his French adventure, Langdon’s next move was confirmed and upon the conclusion of the Top 14 season, he was heading back to England with Northampton Saints.
The Weston-super-Mare native wasted little time during the summer embracing his new surroundings and colleagues as he settled into life as a Saint.
“The team culture at Saints is one of the best I’ve been involved in,” he said. “It didn’t take long at all for me to settle here. The standards in training are really high, I’ve enjoyed that and there’s competition in every position.
“People are pushing the boundaries by working hard. The coaches have been really good and I’ve enjoyed working with them.”
Almost a year to the day after his last game in English rugby, Langdon ran out at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens in the Premiership Rugby Cup match with Cambridge a fortnight ago. He weighed in with an impressive performance as the hosts secured a comfortable 55-5 victory.
“I’d obviously played at Franklin’s Gardens before and enjoyed playing here, it’s always a good pitch,” Langdon added. “You always get good support at Franklin’s Gardens as well, there’s always lots of fans here.
“Experiencing [the atmosphere at the Gardens] as a home player was good and it’s something I’ve been looking forward to. It didn’t disappoint, it was really enjoyable.”Curtis Langdon
Langdon was replaced by Tom Cruse in the second half of the Cambridge clash, as the pair wound back the clock having been together at London Irish earlier in their careers.
The pair form part of a competitive pool of hookers at Saints that includes Fijian World Cup star Sam Matavesi, Robbie Smith and Academy prospect Craig Wright – who made his senior debut off the bench against Ealing Trailfinders earlier this month at only 19 years of age.
Langdon faces stiff competition for the number two shirt but can only see the positives of having so many rivals in his pivotal position.
He said: “Dows speaks about committing and competing every week, every training session, every game.
“We want to compete and we want to win. Having that depth and having that competition in every position, it really drives the standards in training. It means you get boys competing in every session to try and put their name forward to wear the jersey at the weekend.”
The hooker battle will inevitably drive standards and help Langdon reach the big goals he has set himself this season.
“For me it’s about playing a big part in a successful season for Saints,” he said. “We want to go better than last year and win the league and I want to play a big part in that.
“After that, I’ve come back to England now and I’d really like to get another shot in the England team. But now my focus is on performing well for Saints every week and getting wins.”