Northampton Saints flanker Tom Wood will continue playing at Franklin’s Gardens next season after signing an extension to his contract.
The 34-year-old flanker has turned out 226 times to date in Black, Green and Gold since making his debut 11 seasons ago – scoring 21 tries along the way.
Wood, born in Coventry, has already written himself into Northampton folklore in a decade at the Gardens so far, and joined Saints’ revered ‘200 club’ in 2019. The abrasive and athletic back row has 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.
But Wood is only looking forwards and has his sights firmly set on achieving more success within a young and ever-improving Northampton playing group.
“It’s awesome to be staying on at Saints,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being a part of this group, and emotionally speaking the Club is such a big part of my life, so to be given this opportunity is a huge privilege.
“I’ve only ever wanted to stay around as long as I am able to fulfil my role as a player; I only want to be here if I am competing, giving my best on matchday and in training each week.”Tom Wood
“So, it’s really important to me that I am in genuine contention for a starting spot – that’s been the case this year, so I hope to continue that moving forwards.
“I hope I set a good example around the Club by the way I play and conduct myself, and that my experience does rub off on some of the youngsters.
“As a group, we know we are capable of so much more than we have delivered this year. That’s hopefully part of our development and we’ll learn the lessons we need to ahead of next season, and be better for it.”
Capable of playing across all three back row positions, Wood will always be remembered at Franklin’s Gardens for scoring the last-gasp decisive try in the 2014 Premiership semi-final against Leicester Tigers, before captaining Northampton in two finals during Saints’ double-winning season.
He has also amassed 50 caps for England during his time at the Club; appearing at two Rugby World Cups, captaining his country on three occasions, and helping the Red Rose to a Six Nations triumph in 2017.
And Saints’ Director of Rugby, Chris Boyd, is thrilled Wood opted to stay on at Franklin’s Gardens.
He said: “Woody brings a massive amount of experience and leadership to our group, and you absolutely can’t underestimate the contributions he has made on the field this season – he’s played very well.
“He still feels like he is mentally and physically capable of making a big contribution next season, and is a great lieutenant for Alex Waller and Lewis Ludlam around the place.
“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 was never looking to play his rugby anywhere else, and while he’s well set-up for his post-rugby life whenever his retirement comes, he’s not ready to hang up his boots just yet which is great news for Northampton Saints.”