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HomeSportRugbyChris Boyd hails the 'bloody good blokes' of Northampton Saints 2022

Chris Boyd hails the ‘bloody good blokes’ of Northampton Saints 2022

Steve Scoles talks to Chris Boyd has he prepares the players for his final home game as Director of Rugby at Northampton Saints

As the media gears up for Northampton versus Newcastle on Saturday the pundits are all talking about it being Dean Richard’s last game in charge of the Falcons.

The former England star is a rugby legend in his own right and in the words of his opposite number at Saints, Chris Boyd “he is a good man”.

But at Franklin’s Gardens an equally emotional story will be unfolding for the home side. A raft of 15 players will be saying farewell to the supporters (including talismanic Tom Wood) and Boyd himself will be taking his leave after four years developing a side with a shot at emulating the feats of past greats.

A win against Newcastle will see Saints through to the play-offs with the mouth-watering prospect of a match against derby rivals Leicester waiting for them. Boyd the professional is determined to “stay in the moment” and focus on Saturday but he wouldn’t be human if he didn’t find himself reflecting on his time at the Gardens.

He said: “The biggest thing that I notice even watching training today when I first came here Dan Biggar was having to shoulder a lot of responsibility for talking on the field and holding guys to account. There was Tom Wood and Alex Waller but Dan Biggar was a very big part of it.

“I watched with interest today in training he is able to concentrate on running the game a lot more because of the emergence of players like George Furbank, Fraser Dingwall, Lewis Ludlam, Alex Coles, Alex Mitchell, Jimmy Grayson… those guys were all academy players when I came here and they have all taken a bit of time to find themselves in the environment and find their voice.

“Those guys have taken over collectively a lot of driving of things in the organisation and that has freed the burden of Dan Biggar and allowed him to drive the game and have a profound influence on the environment.

“Lewis Ludlam nearly didn’t make the chop when I first arrived but it became pretty apparent that he had genuine leadership ability. He speaks well, he speaks from the heart and he calls a spade a shovel. The emergence of him and taking control of that part of our game. He is a good listener as well as a good talker. That mature leadership is in really good hands. If those guys are still here in five years time there will be a great core of good rugby players and really good men because they are all bloody good blokes.”

Apart from the perennial Premiership coach’s problem of never being able to field what he might consider his best side, Boyd has enjoyed his stewardship of the Saints.

“Covid has been the only negative of my time here. We didn’t make as much progress as quickly as I would have liked. Covid aside I love Franklin’s Gardens, I love the stadium, love the people,” he said.

Newcastle is one of those sides that Saints have found it tough to put away in recent encounters and in no sense is a win seen as a foregone conclusion by the home side.

Mani Iyogun is one of the young breakthrough players that have energised Saints and the feeling in the squad is that they want to draw strength from the buzz of a full stadium.

He said: “We are definitely not looking past the Newcastle game, if we lose it we the ball is not in our court any more. We are still focussed and in the race. The boys have planned for a packed out stadium, it’s going to be really emotional occasion and we are going to use that.”

Matty Proctor, who helped Saints snatch vital bonus points with a spectacular diving score against Sarries last week, said the end of the season had been a “rollercoaster”.

He said: “We have had some ups and downs. We have had a couple of close games that we lost. To claw our way back into the top four is nice. We are quite proud of the way we were able to end that Saracens game and pick up those two bonus points. 

“It’s cool. It’s a good challenge for us. We obviously have to win. It would be good to see how we perform under pressure but if we do what we are best at, we will be fine.

“There are a lot of close boys that are leaving. It’s been a bit tough. Some of their families have already gone but what better send-off than a win.”

I'm the editor and owner of The NeneQuirer.

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