Why are Northampton called Saints?

English Rugby clubs often have nicknames alongside the location of where they are based. Northampton are one of those teams, known as the Northampton Saints. But why are they called the Saints? 

Why are Northampton called Saints? They are called the Saints having been initially created as Northampton St James, with the local reverend Samuel Wathen Wigg who set up the club naming it after his church which was St. James Church. 

Much like other sports teams were doing at that time, Northampton were looking for a name outside of just the place where the team was based. Northampton clergyman Rev Samuel Wathen Wigg was the man who set up the church back in 1880 and he was also the curate for the St James Church which was in Northampton. 

The reverend who wanted to set up the club wanted there to be linked to his church and so the team was called Northampton St. James when it was first created. Over time the club name changed but the nickname stuck and it is why today they are called the Northampton Saints. 

Who owns Northampton Saints? 

Northampton Saints are another of the Premiership Rugby clubs where the exact ownership is slightly difficult to find. However, Northampton Saints are currently owned by a Public Limited Company whose majority shareholder is a fan of the club and local businessman Keith Barwell. 

Barwell did not get involved with Northampton in the business side straight away. In fact, due to him being local to the area, he was originally just a wealthy fan of the club. In 1988 Barwell purchased a box at Franklin Gardens and could be seen at pretty much every home game. He was able to make this purchase thanks to selling his newspaper business. 

Having supported the side through the amateur era, he became more interested in the business side of the club when rugby became professional in 1995. Rugby becoming professional in 1995 meant that the Premiership needed investment and Barwell put £1 million into the club to become the majority shareholder. 

Barwell became the chairman of the club and oversaw an incredibly successful time in Northampton Saints rugby. Since Barwell took over the Saints they have won the Premiership, the Heineken Cup and two Challenge Cup titles. Not only that, but the business side of the club has been successful in that time. 

After the start of the 21st century, the Saints turned a profit in 16 straight years, the only team in the Premiership to do so. Barwell has created a club which can take care of itself financially and helped to create a sustainable future for the Northampton Saints. He has also seen his family involved with the club. 

Barwells’ son Leon was the chairman of the club between 2011 and 2013 and his daughter Ella Bevan remains on the Club’s Board of Directors. Barwell is the first inductee to the Northampton Saints Hall of Fame to have never played a game for the club. Despite that, he had a huge impact on the club and the teams’ future. 

Northampton Saints Captain 

The current captain of Northampton Saints is 27-year-old Lewis Ludlam. The Flanker has been part of Northampton since 2013, joining the Saints Under 18s despite being previously released from their academy. Having been out on loan a few times in his first few years, Ludlam played his way into the starting lineup in the 2018-19 season. 

He made 27 appearances in that season and helped the Saints secure qualification for the Champions Cup and helped the club win the Premiership Rugby Cup. Ludlam became crucial to the Saints team and a regular starter despite making his England debut during the 2019 World Cup. 

Ludlam has been one of the outstanding players for Northampton over the last few seasons and in November 2020 it was announced that he would become club co-captain with Alex Waller. Ludlam became the captain of the side for the 2021-22 season as he is not usually away on international duty. 

He captained the side as they lost in the Premiership semi-final but it was a good sign of improvement for Northampton. Ludlam continued with his role as club captain for the 2022/23 season as there is a lot of leadership in the Northampton team. However, it is much more likely that Ludlam will be available for the Saints. 

Is Courtney Lawes the Northampton Saints Captain? 

As he is one of the longest-serving players for Northampton and a previous England captain, you might assume that Courtney Lawes is the captain for the Northampton Saints. However, Lawes is not the Saint’s captain, it is Lewis Ludlam. 

This is not actually that surprising when you think about it. That is because Lawes will likely be with England for large parts of the season. Lawes is one of the first names on the team sheet for England and he will almost definitely be picked for every England game during the 2022/23 season. 

This means that Lawes will be away from the club for a long time and so Northampton decided to go with Ludlam to start the 2021/22 season as he is much more often with the team and has played a smaller role with England. 

What is Northampton Saints stadium called? 

The Northampton Saints stadium is currently called the Cinch Stadium but is better known as Franklin Gardens. The stadium was originally opened in 1864, with the original name being the Melbourne Gardens. However, when creator John Collier died it was bought by John Franklin. 

Franklin decided to name the stadium after himself and changed the name of the stadium to Franklin’s Gardens. Despite this name change happening over 100 years ago, the name has stuck with the Northampton Saints and has been the home of the Saints ever since.  Over the last couple of years, the Saints have raised funds through selling the naming rights to the stadium. Online car-selling platform Cinch bought those naming rights and it is why the stadium is officially known as the Cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens. 

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