Just five matches of the Gallagher Premiership regular season remain and Northampton Saints chief executive Mark Darbon is looking forward to an exciting run in.
Read Mark's welcome and more in tonight's official matchday programme, on sale for £3.50...
Good afternoon and welcome back to Franklin’s Gardens for our penultimate home game of the season. Gloucester Rugby are in town this afternoon for what promises to be an enthralling Gallagher Premiership clash with the league entering the business end of the season.
It seems an awfully long time since our last home match, which saw us lift our first piece of silverware in almost five years by winning the Premiership Rugby Cup. I’m sure everyone in attendance that day would agree that it was a wonderful occasion – Franklin’s Gardens was at its very best; packed to the rafters with a sea of Black, Green and Gold flags waving in every Saints score.
It’s fantastic for the Club to win a trophy in Chris Boyd’s first season in charge. We feel as though we are heading in the right direction, and we hope all our supporters do too, but of course we recognise that there’s still a lot of work to be done.
It’s hard to believe we’re in April already and we only have one more home fixture in front of us – the season has gone in a flash. As well as our final clash of the Premiership season against Worcester on Saturday 4 May, we are also hosting the final of the Tyrrells Premier 15s on Saturday 27 April where some of the finest talent in the women’s game will be on show. Tickets for our glittering end of season awards ceremony are available now as well for just £125 per person. For more information please check our website – this is always an event not to be missed!
You may have seen we announced three exciting new signings at the end of last month; Jordan Olowofela, Karl Garside and Lewis Bean have all put pen to paper on deals to play for the Club next season. This time of year is all about adding strength in depth to the squad, and we are very confident we’ve done that with these three guys who have bags of potential. Karl has been around the Club for several months now after impressing on Wanderers duty, while Lewis has a really interesting back story – having served as a rifleman with the British Army on two tours of Afghanistan, his work rate and attitude are top class. And Jordan has been tearing up trees on the World Rugby 7s circuit this season with England, so I can’t wait to see what a player with his pace and skill can do within our high-energy backline.
I also wanted to take the opportunity to wish some of those who have recently announced they will be leaving the Club all the very best. Jamal Ford-Robinson, Matt Worley and Joe Wallace all depart with our thanks and best wishes. A special mention must go to Simon Sinclair, who is leaving his post as Academy Manager to become Director of Sport at Bedford Modern School. Simon’s input in recent years has been very positive; you only have to look at the huge array of talent within our first-team squad at the moment that Simon has had a huge hand in bringing through our Academy system. Congratulations to him on his new role – I’m sure he’ll continue to keep an ear to the ground and look out for any exciting talent within the region for us!
Looking at today’s game then, Gloucester represent another huge challenge at a key moment in the season for us. They are an old foe, and not a Club we have fared well against in recent times. But in the race to the play-offs this is a must-win game for us and the players and coaches have been working harder than ever this week to deliver a victory. The Cherry & Whites have threats all over the pitch, none more so than in the No.10 jersey with Danny Cipriani. It will be great to see him and Dan Biggar, who is in fantastic form, go toe-to-toe this afternoon.
Don’t forget to warm up your singing voices, and enjoy the game.
Come on you Saints!