It has been nearly eight years since Montpellier last visited Franklin’s Gardens at the start of the Saints’ Challenge Cup-winning campaign in 2008/09.
Renowned over the past few years as one of France’s pre-eminent production lines of young talent, Montpellier has brought through internationals such as Francois Trinh-Duc, Julien Tomas, Fulgence Ouedraogo and Louis Picamoles, who of course is now in the East Midlands full-time.
Top 14 runners-up in 2011, Montpellier – now under the guidance of World Cup-winning coach Jake White – have recently enjoyed their strongest run of form in some years and in 2016 both won the Challenge Cup and reached the French league semi-finals.
The squad is dominated by some of the world’s best known players, including South African stars Bicmarck and Jannie du Plessis, Springbok number eight Pierre Spies and centre Francois Steyn, and capped internationals from as far afield as Australia, Georgia and Fiji.
Their five wins and three losses sees the come into the Champions Cup sitting in third place in the Top 14 table, just four points behind leaders Clermont Auvergne.
Montpellier are one of French rugby’s heavy hitters, and every voice will count at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday evening.