Cobus Reinach bade an emotional farewell to Northampton Saints supporters yesterday following confirmation that the scrum-half would not be able to pull on a Black, Green and Gold jersey again.
The 30-year-old Springbok is departing for pastures new this summer after three seasons at Franklin’s Gardens, but the Coronavirus pandemic has denied him the chance to sign off in style in Northampton with rounds 14 to 22 of the Gallagher Premiership currently postponed.
Reinach has rubber-stamped his place as a Saints supporter favourite, scoring 31 tries in just 76 appearances and winning the Club’s Players’ and Supporters’ Player of the Year awards last season.
The World Cup winner will join his new Club on July 1 and with rugby not set to return until after that date, he knows he will not be able to play for Northampton again – but while Reinach admits it is heart-breaking to miss out on the ‘goodbye’ he wanted, he is determined to head back to the Gardens in future.
“It’s definitely not the way we wanted things to go but that just means we need to come back to do a little farewell,” he said.
“It’s actually quite exciting to plan a trip back to the Gardens, watch a game, support like everyone else and then I can have a little bit of time with the boys again.
“Before we came here I was at a stage in my career where I needed change and I needed to chase some more growth as a player.
“Coming here has developed me so much, and it’s been unbelievable for us as a family, so much so that my wife doesn’t want to leave here. She tells me every day how beautiful it is.
“Where we’re living, we’ve got the most perfect view and we absolutely adore and love Northampton.
“Saints have always been really good to us, looked after us and I’ve tried to repay everyone at the Club with the way I’ve played.”
Reinach’s blistering pace and try-scoring ability have set him apart as the Premiership’s standout No.9 since his arrival in Northampton; scoring more tries, beating more defenders and making more breaks and metres than any other scrum-half in the league.
But while winning the 2019 Premiership Rugby Cup title – the Club’s first silverware in five years – in front of a packed Franklin’s Gardens is an obvious highlight from Reinach’s tenure, he insists he took just as much delight in spending time with his teammates and Saints’ loyal supporters.
He added: “The fans of Northampton are the heart of the club, the heart of the place.
“They’ve carried the team and even when you don’t get the results, they have your back, so they are amazing.
“Highlights from my time here are definitely lifting the Premiership Rugby Cup last year, but also more generally just learning about the different cultures of all the players here.
“Coming here you play with Islanders, players from the Wales and Scotland squads, players from Australia and New Zealand and there’s a lot of cultures combined.
“That makes you grow as a player and as a person.”