Cobus Reinach bade an emotional farewell to Northampton Saints supporters yesterday following confirmation that the scrum-half would not be able to pull on a Black, Green and Gold jersey again.
The 30-year-old Springbok is departing for pastures new this summer after three seasons at Franklin’s Gardens, but the Coronavirus pandemic has denied him the chance to sign off in style in Northampton with rounds 14 to 22 of the Gallagher Premiership currently postponed.
Reinach has rubber-stamped his place as a Saints supporter favourite, scoring 31 tries in just 76 appearances and winning the Club’s Players’ and Supporters’ Player of the Year awards last season.
😥 “You guys are the heart of the team. It’s been one hell of a ride.”— Northampton Saints 😇 (@SaintsRugby) June 3, 2020
Not the farewell he deserves, but an emotional goodbye from @c_reinach.
Once a Saint, always a Saint #1981 pic.twitter.com/sv4lqdDPCX
The World Cup winner will join his new Club, reportedly Montpellier, on July 1 and with rugby not set to return until after that date, he knows he will not be able to play for Northampton again – but while Reinach admits it is heart-breaking to miss out on the ‘goodbye’ he wanted, he is determined to head back to the Gardens in future.
“It’s definitely not the way we wanted things to go but that just means we need to come back to do a little farewell,” he said.
“It’s actually quite exciting to plan a trip back to the Gardens, watch a game, support like everyone else and then I can have a little bit of time with the boys again.
“Before we came here I was at a stage in my career where I needed change and I needed to chase some more growth as a player.
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“Coming here has developed me so much, and it’s been unbelievable for us as a family, so much so that my wife doesn’t want to leave here. She tells me every day how beautiful it is.
“Where we’re living, we’ve got the most perfect view and we absolutely adore and love Northampton.
“Saints have always been really good to us, looked after us and I’ve tried to repay everyone at the Club with the way I’ve played.”
LINE-UP | A rugby union XIII that would dominate rugby league
With Sky Sports re-running the ‘Clash of the Codes’ matches between Wigan and Bath, RUCK feature writer Oliver Roby has trawled the globe to bring together an all-star team of Union players who’d dominate in rugby league.
1. Full Back – Romain Ntamack
A Rugby League full back needs to be adept in both attack and defence, so we’ve opted for France fly half Romain Ntamack.
His ability to play in the centres in union should see him stand up when required in defence, while his deft handling skills will come to the fore going forward, acting as the extra playmaker like so many of the great rugby league full backs in recent years.
2. Wing – Joe Cokanasiga
Much like their union counterparts, speed and finishing chances are very much part of the game as a winger. Perhaps the only quirk is that league wingers tend to take more carries out of their own half in league.
That’s why Bath powerhouse Joe Cokanasiga would be ideally suited to playing on the wing in rugby league.
3. Centre – Manu Tuilagi
Athletic, strong and extremely capable, Tuilagi would be able to make the union-league switch fairly comfortably as a centre. His physicality in defence would be useful, while his go-forward could well be in the mould of Keith Senior, a modern day great in league. A potentially fearsome partnership with Cokanasiga in either code.
4. Centre – Kurtley Beale
Beale is no stranger to rugby league having grown up playing the sport as a youngster. The union full back would offer a different style to that of Tuilagi, but his agility, soft hands and fine running game would suit rugby league well anywhere in the backs.
5. Wing – Denny Solomona
Something of an unimaginative pick given his recent association with league, but the Sale winger had an incredible strike rate in his days as a professional league player.
Though he was brought up on rugby union, the New Zealand-born England international lit up Super League during his time with Castleford Tigers. His last year in the code before what many viewed as a controversial switch saw him break the all-time Super League record for tries in a season as he scored 40.
Tigers fans would surely welcome him back in an instant given the opportunity.
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6. Stand Off – Dan Biggar
The six and seven – stand off and scrum half – perform similar roles in the modern day to that of a rugby union fly half, so we’ve opted for two of the best in these roles.
Biggar has all the attributes to lead the side in one of the most pivotal roles, communication, decision making and could have made the side at loose forward were it not for our candidate at 13.
7. Scrum Half – Richie Mo’unga
An All Blacks star who would be sure to inject some magic and spark to the halves. Known for his running game and astute kicking, we feel his skills would compliment Biggar well.
8. Prop – Alun Wyn Jones
Props in league tend to play longer minutes, make more carries and the role is not all about size in the scrum like union, so we feel Alun Wyn Jones would suit the prop role well in the other code.
Rangy at 6 foot 5 and weighing in at over 18 stone, he could play in the mould of former Great Britain captain Jamie Peacock; a leader, capable of playing significant minutes, and a rangy offloading threat.
9. Hooker – Conor Murray
Hookers in league essentially play the role of a union scrum half, so quick passing from the base of the ruck – as well as strong decision making – are key.
Hookers in league also usually top the tackle counts – 80 minute hookers regularly make over 40 a game – another element to consider which means serious stamina.
So we’ve opted for Ireland star Conor Murray – his mix of physicality and quick hands proving useful here.
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10. Prop – Kyle Sinckler
A different type of offering in the front row, Sinckler would likely be changed in and out for a bench prop for maximum impact. His size would more than likely make him unsuited to big minutes in rugby league, but in the mould of many hulking league props, he could cause some serious damage with a 20 minute stint in either half.
11. Second Row – Siya Kolisi
Another crucial leader in this pack, a world cup winning captain with South Africa last year.
Kolisi is another hulking presence in the forwards capable of playing big minutes, his size will also be useful when attacking the edge defence. And his defensive qualities are without question.
12. Second Row – George North
A left field pick as North, commonly a winger in rugby union, gets a slot amongst the forwards.
We feel he would be ideally suited to a spot in the second row due to his sheer size and strength – who can forget the time he collected and ran with Israel Folau on his back six years ago.
The more attack-minded teams in league tend to spread the ball wide; quick, strong and agile back rowers can be serious assets in attack while few would argue with North’s strength in defence.
13. Loose Forward – Owen Farrell
Arguably the easiest pick of the bunch.
The definition of a modern day loose forward in rugby league has blurred somewhat in recent years, but the best are those who attack like a halfback and defend like a forward. League icons which come to mind are the likes of Paul Sculthorpe, Sean O’Loughlin and Owen’s dad, Andy.
There is arguably no better example (whatever your thoughts on his close-to-the-bone tackling technique!) – of someone as competent with ball in hand and without.