Northampton Saints today confirms the signing of former London Irish back row Tom Pearson.
The 23-year-old was left without a club side last week when the Exiles were placed into administration and suspended from the Gallagher Premiership, but now joins the men in Black, Green and Gold ahead of the 2023/24 campaign.
Pearson initially joined London Irish’s Academy set-up following a stint at Cardiff Metropolitan University – where he made 28 BUCS Super Rugby appearances, 14 Welsh Championship appearances, and was named in the BUCS Super Rugby Team of the Year.
The 6’3”, 114kg back row arrived at the Exiles ahead of the 2021/22 season, and went on to make 39 appearances in his first two years of professional rugby, scoring ten tries.
He scooped London Irish’s Young Player of the Year award after his debut campaign, but began to really capture the headlines in 2022/23, with a season’s worth of standout performances seeing him named as the Premiership’s Breakthrough Player of the Season and the RPA’s Young Player of the Season.
“From my very first conversation with Phil Dowson, he’s been extremely honest and clear on the direction he wants Saints to go as a Club,” said Pearson. “He really made me feel like I would fit in well in Northampton with the playing group and the style of rugby the team plays.
“He’s also got clear ideas on where my game can improve, and I want to push on and develop as much as I can as a player.
“Saints have an ambitious and young squad, who want to play at the very highest level – so it’s a really exciting prospect to join the Club, try to make an impact on the pitch, and look to win trophies in the not-too-distant future.”Tom Pearson
“Northampton is a massive rugby town and Saints are blessed with a huge fanbase. It’s the best pitch to play on and the stadium has one of the best atmospheres in the Premiership, so I’m really looking forward to that side of it, but I also have some family based in Northamptonshire so it’s already a home away from home for me.
“I’ll always be incredibly grateful to London Irish and treasure my time there. They gave me a shot two years ago coming out of university, when I was an unknown and probably a bit of a risk. It’s tragic to not know the true potential of that team we had, but I want to thank all the players, staff, and the fans for everything they gave me over the last two years and for helping me create lifelong memories.”
Pearson was a key cog for London Irish last term, as the Exiles recorded their highest finish in over a decade to reach fifth in the Gallagher Premiership.
He made 235 tackles in 2022/23 – with only Saints second row Alex Moon making more across the league – and was also in the top three players for turnovers won (21).
Pearson’s performances put him firmly in World Cup contention and the flanker was named in England’s training squad on Monday, with Steve Borthwick’s side beginning their preparations for the tournament this week.
Saints’ Director of Rugby, Phil Dowson, added: “Tom is an incredible athlete, and is just going to get better the longer he is in the professional environment.
“He’s very versatile, able to play across the back row, and thanks to his physicality, movement, and offloading game he can make significant impacts all over the park.”Phil Dowson, Director of Rugby
“We’ve got a determined group and a great record for developing players here at Saints, so we’re really excited to help Tom make further progress on the pitch.
“We’ve also been very impressed on a personal level with his ambition, maturity and drive – so we’re absolutely delighted to bring him to the Club.”