Northampton Saints legend Tom Wood will hang up his boots at the end of the 2021/22 season after an incredible 12 seasons at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens.
The 35-year-old flanker made 240 appearances in Black, Green and Gold, scoring 22 tries along the way, but will retire from professional rugby next month.
Since making his Club debut back in 2010, Coventry-born Wood has written himself into Northampton folklore and joined Saints’ revered ‘200 club’ back in 2019.
In a career laden with silverware, the athletic and abrasive back row forward claimed Gallagher Premiership (2014), European Challenge Cup (2014), Premiership Rugby Cup (2019), and Premiership Player of the Season (2011) titles during his tenure at the Club, as well as helping Saints reach the Heineken Cup final in 2011.
Wood has been out of action since February after sustaining a shoulder injury against Leicester Tigers, but reflects on a long and successful career in Black, Green and Gold with great fondness.
“Northampton Saints has been such a big part of my life and I’ve made some very special memories. I feel privileged to have been able to pull on the jersey here for the past 12 seasons alongside some incredible players,” he said.
“Obviously, retiring is a difficult and emotional decision for any player. I’ve not been able to make as much of a contribution on the pitch as I’d have liked this season due to injury, but that’s the nature of professional sport.
“I’m very proud of my playing career with both Saints and England, and I want to thank all of Saints’ supporters who have embraced me during my time here.”Tom Wood
“Having worked hard in recent years to set myself up for life after rugby, I’m excited for what the next chapter has in store.”
Wood – capable of playing in all three positions across the back row – will forever be remembered at Franklin’s Gardens as one of the finest players to pull on the Northampton jersey.
His last-gasp decisive try in the 2014 Premiership semi-final against Leicester Tigers, a double-winning season in which he captained Saints to victories in two finals, remains one of the most significant and dramatic moments in the Club’s 142-year history.
Saints’ Director of Rugby, Chris Boyd, said: “In my tenure at Saints, Woody has brought a massive amount of experience and leadership quality to our group – not to mention giving 100 per cent every time he plays.
“You can’t overstate the contribution he’s made on the field, and if you look at his entire career in Northampton, there aren’t many people who have done more for the jersey in the history of the Club.”Chris Boyd, Director of Rugby
“In any organisation – elite sport or otherwise – it is so important to have people within that are deeply, emotionally connected to that organisation.
“Woody’s that sort of guy; he’s been an incredible competitor and the ultimate team man, and I know everyone at Franklin’s Gardens wishes him the very best for his retirement.”
Wood also amassed 50 caps for England during his time as a Saint, appearing at two Rugby World Cups, captaining his country on three occasions, and helping the Red Rose to Six Nations triumphs in 2011 and 2017.
“It was a privilege to have coached Tom for a large part of his international career,” commented former England Head Coach, Stuart Lancaster.
“He was tough, uncompromising, and skilful and held himself and others to the highest of standards. I have particularly fond memories of his captaincy during the Argentina tour in 2013 where he was exceptional in leading a younger team and helping them achieve their potential.
“His longevity as a player is a testament to his professionalism and commitment and I am certain with all the qualities he has, whichever path he chooses next, he will have success.”