The Saints' pre-season fixtures kick off in France on Saturday with a match against Castres as part of the annual Challenge Vaquerin.
The match against Castres will be the Saints first 15-a-side fixture in just over three months and will signal the start of the 2016/17 campaign. The Saints will travel to Rugby Club Du Rougier XV in Camarès to face Castres in the first of three meetings in the coming months, with Castres also in Pool 4 of the Champions Cup.
Last season, Castres reached the quarter finals of the Top 14, where they were defeated 28-9 by Montpellier having won the title against Toulon in 2013. Castres also previously reached the final in 2014 where they once again faced Toulon, this time losing by 18-10.
In Europe, Castres competed in the Champions Cup during the 2014/15 season, before taking part in the 2015/16 Challenge Cup. Their best performances in Europe came in 1997 and 200 when they finished as runners up in the Challenge Cup, before going on to win the European Shield in 2003.
The Challeneg Vaquerin was started in 1994 and is played annually in memory of one of France’s greatest ever rugby players, Armand Vaquerin. A loosehead prop, Vaquerin was the only player to be involved in all ten of AS Béziers’ French rugby championship titles and during his career he won 26 caps for France.
In July 1992, whilst in a bar that he co-owned in Béziers, Vaquerin was showing off a revolver that he had recently bought. Whilst trying to encourage people to play Russian Roulette, he took the first spin himself, picked up the revolver, placed it against his head and pulled the trigger. He killed himself instantly at the age of 42.
The first few years of the Challenge Vaquerin were dominated by Vaquerin’s former club, AS Béziers, who won the competition seven times between 1994 and 2004. In recent years a number of top flight rugby clubs from across Europe have taken part in the competition, with the Saints reaching the final in 2011.
Suporters can follow live from Camarèson Saturday via score and substitution updates on Twitter, with regular updates also provided on Facebook.
For ticket information, please visit http://challengevaquerin.fr/2012-07-01-15-03-37/billetterie.html
The location of the stadium in Camarès (not Castres!!) can be accessed via https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?ll=43.82558%2C2.877023&spn=0.006928%2C0.011169&msa=0&iwloc=0004c3c5d2596f1f7ed2c&mid=1--H6tzu0R20SUO0Mjjf7l2Cih64.