Northampton Saints’ players and coaches took on a new challenge this week while preparing for their Premiership Rugby Cup showdown against Saracens.
The men in Black, Green and Gold welcome their north London rivals to Franklin’s Gardens on Sunday afternoon in a repeat of last season’s Premiership Rugby Final – which Saints won 23-9 to lift their first silverware in five years.
And while Northampton will be looking to recreate that success this weekend to pick up their first win of the new season, scrum coach Matt Ferguson also found time to welcome the Club’s wheelchair rugby side into camp during the week.
“No-one wears their Northampton colours more proudly than Saints Wheelchair Rugby. They are an elite, extremely professional side competing at the very top level of their sport.”Matt Ferguson, scrum coach
Saints Wheelchair Rugby players joined the first-team squad for a meeting and then a team challenge race using the rugby wheelchairs, before attending Saturday’s captain’s run at Franklin’s Gardens.
During the Premiership Rugby Cup, director of rugby Chris Boyd has given his coaching team (made up of Alan Dickens, Sam Vesty, Phil Dowson and Ferguson) the opportunity to lead the week’s meetings, training schedule and team activities – and Ferguson was thrilled with his decision to introduce wheelchair rugby to the squad.
“We’re always trying out new techniques, bringing in guest speakers, and setting squad challenges during the week to keep the boys focused and motivated,” said Ferguson.
“But it’s also really important that the squad understands there are other teams also representing the town and this Club – and no-one wears their Northampton colours more proudly than the Saints Wheelchair Rugby side.
“I’ve been lucky enough to go and watch a few of their training sessions already, and it only takes a few moments watching Saints Wheelchair Rugby to realise they are an elite, extremely professional side competing at the very top level of their sport.
“A group of the Club’s coaches and commercial staff had a go at wheelchair rugby last month, and everyone was seriously impressed by the skill level and genuine physicality of the game!
“So it was great for our players to meet them and get a fresh perspective on what it means to represent this great Club.”
Saints Wheelchair Rugby were formed in 2018 and are constantly on the lookout for new players – young and old, experienced and amateur – with any level of disability.
The squad trains on Mondays from 6pm to 7.15pm (8-17 years old) and 7.15pm to 8.30pm (18+) at Northampton International Academy, and competes in the national WR5s Premiership.
Ferguson added: “It was fantastic to see the players swapping stories with their wheelchair rugby counterparts.
“Some of those within the Saints Wheelchair Rugby squad have come through some real adversity, and as a playing group your mindset is so important.
“There was a lot that our players could learn from the mindset and attitude of the wheelchair rugby players, and those lessons will be crucial for us moving forwards.”
If you have a disability and want to play for Saints Wheelchair Rugby, or if you want to volunteer your time or donate to the club, please email head coach Jamie Higgins on [email protected].