Northampton Saints chief executive Mark Darbon is relishing the return of first-team men’s rugby to cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens, as Barbarian F.C. return to the Town this afternoon for what is set to be another enthralling exhibition match.
Read Mark’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 our first home match of the new 2023/24 season!
It’s been a long summer with no first team men’s rugby played in Northampton since April, but everyone at the Club is delighted to see the new season finally roll around and excited for what is to come for this group of players and coaches.
As ever, our work has continued apace over the summer to ensure that our supporters enjoy the very best experience on matchdays, and we hope to hit the ground running today. We took a lot of feedback from our end-of-season survey on board and plenty of work has been done to make improvements to the stadium bowl, Supporter Village, and inside our hospitality areas over the last few months which hopefully you will notice today – and one particular change we hope you will appreciate is the brand-new PA system inside the ground, which I know has been on many supporters’ wish lists for quite some time!
We have also been busy hosting a number of summer events (such as the Rod Stewart concert, an outdoor comedy night, and a new party Bingo event just last week) to drive revenue into the Club over the summer months, and to continue to build our profile as one of the best multi-purpose venues in the country. To any of our fans who supported those or any of the other events we hosted this summer, I was to say a huge ‘thank you’ for getting behind us.
I also want to thank the 8,000 of you who have already renewed your Season Tickets for the upcoming season. Your support means the world to us, particularly during a cost-of-living crisis where finances have got more challenging for everyone. We’ll do our very best to make you proud this season, and if you do still want to buy or renew a Season Ticket, it’s not too late – CLICK HERE for more information.
We are very lucky to be able to welcome the Barbarians back to Northampton for the second time in our history today, to ensure the season starts off with a bang. Last year’s match (which Saints shaded 45-39) was incredibly entertaining, and we’re set for another memorable encounter and end-to-end rugby today, with so many Australian and Japanese internationals set to don the famous black and white hoops. We are grateful to the Baabaas for agreeing to stage another match here at the Gardens, and for assembling such a strong group of players to take on Saints, as we look to prepare for the season ahead as thoroughly as possible.
Despite a narrow defeat last weekend down at Bedford Blues, it was excellent to see so many young Saints – many of our first-year players in particular – run out in Black, Green and Gold and represent the Club for the first time. As Phil Dowson mentions in his own welcome on the next page, the start to this season (due to the Rugby World Cup) presents an interesting challenge to our coaching group. They will look to manage the whole squad’s workload during the lengthy run of Premiership Rugby Cup games to ensure we are as well prepared as we possibly can be for the start of the Premiership, while also looking to progress in the Cup! So, I am looking forward to seeing what this group of players can do again today with a home crowd behind them, and excited to see the whole squad utilised over the next few weeks.
More than anything else though I am enthused to see the stadium packed out with supporters for the first time in months, and to experience the unique atmosphere we’re always blessed with at the Gardens, so make sure to bring the noise today and get behind those players in Black, Green and Gold.
Enjoy the game, and come on you Saints!