JJ Tonks and Tommy Mathews have both joined Northampton Saints’ Senior Academy ahead of the 2019/20 season, the Club can today announce.
The pair both rose through the ranks at Gloucester Rugby but have now made the switch to Franklin’s Gardens and joined up with Chris Boyd’s squad as they began their preseason preparations earlier this month.
Tonks, 19, linked up with the Cherry & Whites at just 12 years old. The back-row forward has international recognition to his name after representing England 7s at the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games – collecting a silver medal alongside future Saints teammate Ollie Sleightholme.
“JJ and Tommy are both keen to learn and have some superb role models ahead of them in the pecking order at Franklin’s Gardens.”Mark Hopley, academy manager
Tonks also turned out for England Under-18s in 2018 before enjoying a stint in New Zealand training with the Otago Mitre 10 Cup team, playing for the region's Under-18 and Under-19 sides in the process.
Meanwhile 18-year-old fly-half Mathews was first picked up by London Irish before moving to Hartpury College and catching the attention of Gloucester.
The talented goal-kicker featured in both the 2018 and 2019 Premiership Rugby Under-18s Academy League Finals, as well as pulling on a Wales Under-18s jersey for the Six Nations championship earlier this year.
“Both of these young guys have arrived at the Club, got stuck in, and impressed us with their commitment so far in preseason training,” said Saints academy manager Mark Hopley.
“JJ and Tommy are both keen to learn and have some superb role models ahead of them in the pecking order at Franklin’s Gardens – to be able to pick the brains of the likes of Tom Wood and Dan Biggar in their positions is invaluable at their age.
“We showed last season that young players will get opportunities as the season wears on and so we don’t expect JJ and Tommy just to make up the numbers.
“We’re very proud of the quality of our Senior Academy players and we expect these two to contribute on the field too. They’ve both played international age-group rugby so the talent is certainly there and I’m excited to see what they can accomplish this season.”