STATEMENT: Northampton Saints confirm two stalwart's departures - Ruck

STATEMENT: Northampton Saints confirm two stalwart’s departures

Matt Proctor and James Fish will leave Northampton Saints at the conclusion of the 2022/23 season, the Club can today confirm.

Kiwi centre Proctor has notched up 72 appearances in Black, Green and Gold since joining Northampton back in 2019, while Saints Academy product Fish has 77 to his name in six full seasons with the first team.

“Matty is an ultra-competitive player who has brought an edge to our back-line over the time he’s been with us,” said Saints’ Director of Rugby, Phil Dowson.

“Socially too he’s great in the environment as he looks out for the other lads, makes sure everyone is doing ok and feels included in what we’re doing. He’s always got time for other people. He’s been a mainstay in our group, and we wish him all the best for his future away from Saints.”

Fish rose through the Saints Academy system after picking up rugby at hometown club Derby, also representing England Under-18s on a tour of South Africa in 2014, before signing his first senior Club contract ahead of the 2019/20 season. 

During his time in the Academy, the hooker helped Northampton Wanderers lift both the 2017 and 2018 Premiership Rugby Shield trophies – defeating Gloucester United and then Exeter Braves in consecutive finals. 

Fish earned his Saints number (#1971) by debuting against Newcastle Falcons in the Premiership Rugby Cup in 2016, but it was during the 2018/19 campaign that really he made his breakthrough into the first team – taking his opportunity in an injury-struck Saints side.

He added 24 appearances and three tries to his tally that term, starting the Gallagher Premiership semi-final against Exeter Chiefs and coming off the bench to help Saints lift the Premiership Rugby Cup at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens.

Strangest call-ups: The worst England XV of all-time

RUCK looks at the worst players to have ever pulled on a shirt for the Red Rose. 

First of all, we have to say that to play for England you have to be a very good player – but these players, for one reason or another, never quite performed as they would have liked in the white jersey.

This team was inspired and partly taken from Mike Cooper’s origional blog on RuckedOver.

Fullback: Mark Van Gisbergen

Yes, he has a cap – only a fleeting one, as a late replacement for Mark Cueto against Australia in 2005 – but he does boast a 100% winning ratio in international colours, so you can’t knock that. His main strengths were dropping the high ball under limited pressure and getting gassed on the outside.

Winger: Barrie-Jon Mather

He became the first player to represent Great Britain in Rugby League and England in Union. His move to union was part funded by the RFU, who were embarking on a strategy of converting some of leagues best talent. However, Mather struggled to make an impact with Sale and moved back to Castleford in 2000. In spite of his poor form with Sale, Clive Woodward gave Mather his debut against Wales in the famous Grand Slam decider in 1999. However, Mather never played for England again after Wales won the game 32-31, following Scott Gibbs’ superb try.

Centre: Joel Tomkins

Tomkins began his League career with Wigan in 2005 and outside of a short stint with the Widnes Vikings in 2007, played with the Warriors until moving to Saracens in 2011. While Tomkins initially struggled to adapt to union, but his form during the beginning of the 2013/14 season saw him earn an England cap against Australia in November 2013. Although he went on to make two further international appearances, he looked completely out of his depth and returned to league soon after.