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Tom Cruse to stay at Northampton Saints

By Ian Cameron
Tom Cruse of Northampton Saints is held by Nick Isiekwe (L) and Manu Vunipola during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Northampton Saints and Saracens at Franklin's Gardens on April 15, 2023 in Northampton, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Veteran hooker Tom Cruse has committed his future to Northampton Saints by signing a contract extension, the club have confirmed.

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The 34-year-old front rower joined the Saints last season as injury cover from Edinburgh Rugby and quickly made his mark. With eight seasons of Gallagher Premiership experience, Cruse brought a wealth of knowledge to Franklin’s Gardens after a long stint with Wasps.

Since his arrival, Cruse has made nine appearances for the Saints, including a start in the Gallagher Premiership semi-final against Saracens. Known for his reliability in the set-piece, the hooker had an impressive record during his time at Wasps, amassing 114 appearances and scoring 21 tries in six seasons before the club faced financial difficulties in 2022.

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Cruse’s rugby journey began with local club Stockport before progressing through the ranks of Sale Sharks’ academy. He showcased his talent with Macclesfield in National Two North and later secured a move to Championship team Rotherham Titans. During his time at Rotherham, Cruse was named in the Championship Dream Team as the league’s standout hooker, scoring 11 tries in 44 appearances.

His performances caught the attention of London Irish, where he made 14 appearances during the 2015/16 season before joining Wasps. Cruse’s outstanding form earned him the Players’ Player of the Season award in 2017/18, as he notched up 24 appearances and seven tries for the club.

Having joined Northampton from Edinburgh on a short-term deal, Cruse’s extension ensures his continued presence in the black, green, and gold jersey. He will join the ranks of Sam Matavesi, Curtis Langdon, Robbie Smith, and talented Academy players Craig Wright and Aston Gradwick-Light as Northampton’s hookers for the upcoming 2023/24 season.

“The initial move to Saints came at the perfect time for me, as I was up in Edinburgh away from my family, so being back in the Premiership and back with them was a big pull,” said Cruse. “But since I got to the club, I’ve been blown away by how good it’s been. I’ve been on the phone to the coaches since the end of the season to tell them just how much I have enjoyed my time in Northampton so far.

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“It was obviously disappointing to lose out in the semi-finals of the Premiership, but it was a really enjoyable run-in to the season – there is an unbelievable group of players, coaches and backroom staff at the Club, and it was easy to come into this environment and feel welcome straight away.

“Saints is a club that is very much together, and well run from top to bottom. The fanbase is amazing, with the Gardens packed out every week – the atmosphere they create on matchday is unique and so I can’t wait to carry on in Northampton.

“I think I’ve signed more autographs in the last few months than I have done the rest of my career put together, and it’s fantastic to feel that backing from the supporters.

“We’ve got a very strong group of hookers at the Club, with everyone learning from each other and driving each other forward. That competition is exactly what you want within your squad in every position, so it’s really exciting to think about how much we can all grow together as a group and build on what we did last year.”

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Director of Rugby Phil Dowson expressed his excitement about the formidable line-up competing for the No.2 jersey in the upcoming season. “We were hugely impressed by Tom when he came into the group midway through the season – impressed by his competitive nature, by his communication skills, by the energy he brings in everything he does, and by the way he drives our standards,” said Dowson.

“He’s a good man and a very good, experienced player who can do a lot of the things all over the park that we like, and with Tom signed up alongside the other hookers already in place for the 2023/24 season, we’re confident we have one of the strongest and deepest line-ups in that position in the Premiership.”

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