Hooker Tom Cruse has signed a contract extension with Northampton Saints, the Club can today confirm.
The 34-year-old veteran front rower signed for Saints midway through last season as injury cover from Edinburgh Rugby, bringing eight seasons of Gallagher Premiership experience with him to cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens following a long stint with Wasps.
Cruse has made nine appearances so far in Black, Green and Gold, including a start in the Gallagher Premiership semi-final at Saracens, and is delighted to be continuing in Northampton.
“The initial move to Saints came at the perfect time for me, as I was up in Edinburgh away from my family, so being back in the Premiership and back with them was a big pull,” he said.
“But since I got to the Club, I’ve been blown away by how good it’s been. I’ve been on the phone to the coaches since the end of the season to tell them just how much I have enjoyed my time in Northampton so far.
“It was obviously disappointing to lose out in the semi-finals of the Premiership, but it was a really enjoyable run-in to the season – there is an unbelievable group of players, coaches and backroom staff at the Club, and it was easy to come into this environment and feel welcome straight away.
“Saints is a Club that is very much together, and well run from top to bottom. The fanbase is amazing, with the Gardens packed out every week – the atmosphere they create on matchday is unique and so I can’t wait to carry on in Northampton.”Tom Cruse
“I think I’ve signed more autographs in the last few months than I have done the rest of my career put together, and it’s fantastic to feel that backing from the supporters.
“We’ve got a very strong group of hookers at the Club, with everyone learning from each other and driving each other forward. That competition is exactly what you want within your squad in every position, so it’s really exciting to think about how much we can all grow together as a group and build on what we did last year.”
A reliable set-piece operator, Cruse made 114 appearances and scored 21 tries for Wasps in six full seasons, before the club was placed into administration in 2022.
The 100kg hooker began his career with local club Stockport, rising through the ranks in Sale Sharks’ academy and impressing with Macclesfield in National Two North before securing a move to Championship outfit Rotherham Titans – during a two-season spell at Clifton Lane, Cruse scored 11 tries in 44 appearances, and was named in the Championship Dream Team as the league’s stand-out hooker.
That caught the attention of London Irish, where he made 14 appearances during the 2015/16 season, before a move to Wasps beckoned. Cruse was named the club’s Players’ Player of the Season during the 2017/18 campaign when he racked up 24 appearances and seven tries.
Cruse joined the men in Black, Green and Gold from Edinburgh last season, having moved north of the border on a short-term deal. He also played for the Barbarians against Bath Rugby in November 2022, starting for the invitational side as they claimed a last-minute win.
He joins the likes of Sam Matavesi, Curtis Langdon, Robbie Smith, and Academy players Craig Wright and Aston Gradwick-Light in Saints’ stable of hookers for next season – and Director of Rugby Phil Dowson is excited about the line-up of players set to compete for Northampton’s No.2 jersey in 2023/24.
Dowson said: “We were hugely impressed by Tom when he came into the group midway through the season – impressed by his competitive nature, by his communication skills, by the energy he brings in everything he does, and by the way he drives our standards.
“He’s a good man and a very good, experienced player who can do a lot of the things all over the park that we like, and with Tom signed up alongside the other hookers already in place for the 2023/24 season, we’re confident we have one of the strongest and deepest line-ups in that position in the Premiership.”