'Navy Sailor Heads Overseas' - Sam Matavesi Departs Northampton in Expected Move to French Top 14 Club - Ruck

‘Navy Sailor Heads Overseas’ – Sam Matavesi Departs Northampton in Expected Move to French Top 14 Club

Northampton Saints have confirmed that hooker Sam Matavesi has left the club, with the Fiji international expected to soon be agreeing a move to Lyon. Matavesi’s outbound club are yet to be confirmed, as Saints announced the Royal Navy servicemen is pursuing an ‘opportunity overseas’.

Lyon have been previously reported to be linked with Matavesi, and should the 32-year-old make the move he will become the latest ex-Northampton Saint to swap England for France. Matavesi would join the likes of Lewis Ludlam (Toulon) and Courtney Lawes (Brive), to make the change following their Premiership title winning 2023/24 season.

Sam Matavesi of Northampton Saints is tackled by Jack Yeandle, Captain of Exeter Chiefs during the Gallagher Premiership Match between Exeter Chiefs and Northampton Saints at Sandy Park on 25 September 2021. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

A statement from Northampton Saints read:

Northampton Saints can today confirm that hooker Sam Matavesi will depart the Club with immediate effect to pursue a playing opportunity overseas.

The 32-year-old Fijian international joined the men in Black, Green and Gold ahead of the 2019/20 season from Championship club Cornish Pirates, and made 89 appearances during his five-season spell at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens, scoring 13 tries.

Matavesi made his Saints debut away against Leinster in December 2019 in the Investec Champions Cup, before making his Gallagher Premiership debut against Sale Sharks a week later.

Sam Matavesi of Northampton Saints celebrates with fans after the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Final Match between Northampton Saints and Bath Rugby at Twickenham Stadium on 8 June 2024. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

His final appearance for Northampton came off the bench in the Gallagher Premiership victory over Bath at Twickenham Stadium earlier this month, when he became the first serving military (Royal Navy) rugby player to lift the trophy.

“We’re disappointed that Sam has decided to move overseas, but we have a fantastic stable of hookers at Saints in Curtis Langdon, Robbie Smith and Craig Wright – so we have every confidence in the quality we have in that space,” said Northampton’s Director of Rugby, Phil Dowson.

Phil Dowson, Director of Rugby of Northampton Saints during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Semi Final match between Northampton Saints and Saracens at cinch Stadium at FranklinÕs Gardens, Northampton on 31 May 2024. – PHOTO: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

“Curtis and Robbie are both pushing for international selection with England and Scotland respectively, while Craig is currently England’s standout hooker at Under-20s level.

“Sam has brought a lot, both on and off the pitch, to our group over the last few seasons, so we thank him for his contribution and wish him and his family the best for their next step