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Saints coming up with 'compelling' offer to keep captain at club

By PA
NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 24: Lewis Ludlam of Northampton Saints breaks with the ball during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Northampton Saints and Harlequins at the cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens on November 24, 2023 in Northampton, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Northampton rugby director Phil Dowson says Saints are “desperate” to keep captain Lewis Ludlam at the club.

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World Cup squad member Ludlam has been strongly linked to joining England’s playing exodus abroad.

Ludlam, who is currently sidelined because of injury, is thought to be attracting considerable attention from Top 14 club Toulon.

Ludlam’s ex-Saints colleague David Ribbans is already with Toulon, while former Harlequins centre Joe Marchant has joined Stade Francais, Jack Willis is at Toulouse and Henry Arundell moved to Racing 92 after the World Cup.

Current Rugby Football Union rules mean that players plying their trade outside England are not eligible for international selection.

In Arundell’s case, though, he could be available for the Six Nations later this season after he joined Racing 92 following London Irish’s collapse.

“We’re desperate to keep him,” Dowson told BBC Radio Northampton.

“I’ve seen the reports and it is no surprise to me that Lewis is a very sought-after man.

“We are trying to put an offer together that is compelling, and we will try and keep him here as our captain.”

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Ludlam’s back-row versatility and experience – he has played in the last two World Cups – would be a loss for England boss Steve Borthwick if he moves to France next season.

If he regains full fitness ahead of the Six Nations, though, Ludlam could realistically play an important part, especially given flanker Tom Curry’s season-ending hip injury and Saracens’ Ben Earl currently being sidelined due to a knee problem.

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