Northampton Saints today confirm that prop Tarek Haffar has put pen to paper on a contract with the Club ahead of the 2023/24 season.
The 115kg, 6’0” loosehead joins the men in Black, Green and Gold from London Irish, after the Exiles filed for administration and were suspended from the Gallagher Premiership last week.
Haffar, 21, joined the London Irish Academy set-up aged 14, having caught the eye with club side Grasshoppers RFC while also playing for Gunnersbury Catholic School.
He notched up ten appearances for the Exiles during the 2022/23 season, after making his debut against Harlequins in September 2022, scoring one try against Sale Sharks in the Gallagher Premiership.
“Tarek is someone whose progress we have been following for a long time,” said Saints’ Director of Rugby, Phil Dowson.
“He clearly has both the physical and mental ability to push on and become a top-class loosehead prop. He has a lot of power and loves to get involved and carry the ball as well, having played a bit of back row earlier in his career.
“The work he’s been doing as a scrummager is really impressive, so while Tarek doesn’t have masses of experience yet, he has masses of potential and is desperate to kick on.”Phil Dowson, Director of Rugby
“It’s fantastic for us to add some depth at loosehead too. Manny [Iyogun] is coming back from a long-term injury, and we obviously have Alex and Ethan Waller in that space as well, but we want Tarek to be challenging all those guys and making the competition for that jersey as fierce as possible.”
Haffar was capped three times by England at Under-20s level during the 2020/21 campaign, having also represented Middlesex County and National One side Redigensians on loan during his rise through the London Irish Academy.
He said: “Playing against Saints a couple of times last season, it was clear that they are a really well-drilled team that is packed with talent.
“Seeing how well they did throughout the year just gone, it feels like it is a Club that is really building up to something big – so, when the opportunity arose to come up to Northampton, it was something that I wanted to be a part of.
“Speaking to some of my coaches at London Irish as well, like Jonathan Fisher and Ross McMillan who have experienced playing for Saints themselves and know the coaches well, they also told me how good the set-up in Northampton is and that I would fit in well.”Tarek Haffar
“Saints have a really devoted coaching group; it’s clear they work hard with the players, both on and off the pitch, to help the team connect and develop. I also want to be within a team that’s really pushing forward and chasing silverware, as that is obviously something I want to achieve during my career.
“It is heart-breaking to see London Irish in the situation it’s now in, but I hope some of those Exiles fans can keep their love of rugby and will continue to follow my career here at Saints, and I want to say thank you to all the coaches and supporters at London Irish for getting me to where I am.”