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Northampton Saints play at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens
Northampton Saints ©
Northampton Saints play at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens
Northampton Saints ©
The Club

Mark Darbon: An update from Saints’ Chief Executive

I hope you are all keeping well during this short hiatus from Gallagher Premiership and Investec Champions Cup matches.

Our squad have enjoyed a much-needed break after 16 back-to-back rounds of league and European games, and most have now returned to the Club to prepare for our return to action this month – with a couple of exhibition matches against the Stormers and Sale Sharks now on the horizon. The rest of our players are away representing Northampton brilliantly in the Six Nations across the England, England U20s, and Scotland squads, while a handful were also involved with England A last weekend. We’re looking forward to seeing their continued involvement on the international stage over the next couple of weeks, before welcoming them back ahead of our visit to Bristol Bears when the Premiership restarts in just under three weeks’ time.

I wanted to write to you to provide an update on an important piece of work the Club has carried out over the past few months.

At Saints, we aim to be a modern, sustainable, and innovative rugby club which is at the heart of our community. We could not be more proud of our past, but we always must look forwards and are incredibly ambitious for the future. We are confident our brightest days still lie ahead of us, and I know our supporters share that spirit.

If you look across the globe, the most popular and successful sports teams and organisations have clear visual identities, which are both immediately recognisable and highly memorable. The sport of rugby, specifically, faces several clear awareness and appeal challenges, so, more than ever before, we need our own visual identity to appeal to the next generation of supporters, whilst respecting the rich history of our Club. In that context, responses to our 2022/23 End-of-Season supporter survey gave us some food for thought, indicating that Northampton Saints’ own visual identity could be stronger in some areas.

Towards the end of last year, we therefore reached out to our supporters to gather further input with another survey – and thousands of people responded to our call. We wanted to understand which visual identifiers you all hold dearest to ensure we are reflecting them properly, both on and off the pitch.

The results of this, in addition to further research undertaken by the Club at a Supporter Engagement Group meeting, at our Champions Cup match against Bayonne, and at our Supporter Forum in January, has made it clear that we have some work to do to futureproof the visual identity of Northampton Saints – with our most significant challenge specifically relating to the Club’s crest.

OUR RESEARCH SUMMARY CAN BE READ HERE, and I would urge Saints supporters to digest this in full to understand the journey we have been on already up to this point. In particular, our research identified that Saints’ current crest is difficult to recall, does not scale well digitally, and also does not adequately showcase Northampton’s core Black, Green and Gold colours – which three-quarters of supporters told us was the most-important part of the Club’s overall identity. Moreover, while the current crest of course has heritage through use (it has been stitched on our playing kit since 1984), when it was designed in the 1950s by a group of students at Northampton Technical College as an adaptation of the Town’s coat of arms, it was done so without any reference to the unique history of the Club itself.

With all this research in mind, the Club’s Board have made a decision to undertake some work to evolve our crest. We will do so with our research in mind and alongside a specialist external agency, Jard Design.

There is a shared belief that we must look forward to ensure the continued relevance, appeal and sustainability of this brilliant Club. We believe we can create a crest which truly reflects the identity of Northampton Saints – honouring the Club’s past whilst looking ahead to the future.

A significant number of people told us within our survey that they would be open to this change. However, we understand that this decision may be uncomfortable for some supporters who have long and powerful emotional relationships with our current crest. For many, it is the only crest they will have ever known.

I want to assure our supporters that the history and tradition of Northampton Saints remains of the utmost importance to us, so these values will be at the heart of our work. We have consulted with Saints’ Club Historian, Graham McKechnie, and with the Foundation’s Heritage team, during our research so far and will continue to do so on the next steps on this journey.

From the Club’s owners, board members, players, and staff, there is a lot of enthusiasm for this project and we’re excited to reveal more in the summer of 2024. I very much hope you, too, will get behind this work given its importance for the future of Northampton Saints.

For now, I look forward to welcoming you all back to cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens over the next couple of weekends for our matches against the Stormers and Sale Sharks – two crucial matches as we prepare to hit the ground running when the Gallagher Premiership and Investec Champions Cup campaigns get back underway.

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