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Saints face top teams in European Champions Cup

Northampton Saints have been placed in Pool two Credit: Twitter/@ChampionsCup

Northampton Saints' fate has been decided for next season's European Champions Cup.

The Saints have been placed in Pool Two and face tough opponents, including reigning champions Saracens and last year's runner's up Clermont Auvergne.

The opening round of the competition starts in October.

Director of Rugby Jim Mallinder says it's a chance for his side to test themselves against the other top teams.

If you want to be in the Champions Cup you’ve got to be prepared to play tough teams and this is what we will have to do,” Mallinder says.

It’s a challenging draw and we know that we’ll have to play at our very best if we are to progress from it. Saracens and Clermont were this year’s Champions Cup finalists and are two of the best teams in Europe, and the Ospreys have plenty of international players, too.

But it is a draw that we can be excited about, because we want to test ourselves against the other top team, and we believe we’ve got a squad that can compete next season.

– Jim Mallinder, Director of Rugby

Lawes impresses but British & Irish Lions suffer defeat

Lawes leaves the pitch with Johnny Sexton. Credit: PA
  • Blues 22-16 British and Irish Lions

Northampton Saints forward Courtney Lawes enjoyed an impressive debut for the British and Irish Lions, but couldn't prevent them from losing to the Blues in Auckland.

A late Ihaia West try condemned the Lions to their first defeat of this summer's New Zealand tour as they fell way short of their best at Eden Park.

Warren Gatland's side had looked on course to scrape a narrow victory courtesy of Leigh Halfpenny's boot, but West crossed the line with just five minutes remaining to win the match for the Super Rugby side.

Lawes was one of the players to emerge with plaudits though thanks to a series of bone-crunching tackles and his partnership with England colleague Maro Itoje in the second row.

The loss will come as a big blow to the Lions who were up against a Blues team who are currently bottom of the New Zealand Super Rugby conference.

They will face another step up in class on Saturday when they face the unbeaten Crusaders in Christchurch.


Courtney Lawes: Northampton star handed first Lions start

Courtney Lawes will start against the Blues. Credit: PA

Northampton Saints second row Courtney Lawes will make his debut for the British and Irish Lions in Wednesday's tour match against the Blues.

The 28-year-old is one of 15 changes from the side that stuttered past the Provincial Barbarians.

Lawes' Saints teammate George North won't feature in the match in Auckland, but should face the Crusaders on Saturday.

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Georgia on their minds: England U20s ready for World Cup challenge

Alex Mitchell Credit: Northampton saints

Northampton Saints youngster Alex Mitchell is part of the England Under 20s side to face Wales in the second game of the World Rugby U20 Championship in Georgia tomorrow.

England won their opening game of the Championship, scoring 12 tries in a 74-14 victory over Samoa.

You'll be able to see highlights of the game on ITV4 tomorrow night at 11pm.

And for more news follow ITV Rugby on Twitter.

Saints march into Europe after thriller at the Gardens

Ahsee Tuala scored the winning try for Saints Credit: PA Images

Northampton Saints Director of Rugby Jim Mallinder praised his team's powers of recovery to secure the final spot for next season's European Champions Cup.

Second half tries from Ben Foden and Ashee Tuala - the latter with the Saints down to thirteen men - helped them overturn a sixteen point deficit against Stade Francais to win 23-22.

The European Challenge Cup winners from Paris looked destined to snatch last night's play-off at Franklin's Gardens when Saints' skipper Tom Wood was dismissed.

Moments after Rory Hutchinson had been sinbinned, referee John Lacey ruled that Wood made contact with the head of Stade full back Djibril Camara in a ruck midway through the second half.

The decision incensed the home fans and their reaction seemed to inspire the Saints. Tuala's touchdown in the corner was followed by Harry Mallinder's conversion from the left hand touchline.

And despite their player advantage Stade Francais couldn't add to the points they scored before half time, including three tries.

Here's Jim Mallinder talking to ITV Angli's Donovan Blake after the game:

And Ben Foden:


Northampton Saints to hold one minute's silence for terror attack victims

Northampton Saints rugby club will hold a minute's silence ahead of kick off at Franklin's Gardens on Friday.

Fans and players will remember those killed in the terror attack in Manchester on Monday, when a bomb blast killed 22 people at the end of a music concert.

The club has urged fans to get to their seats early ahead of the match against Stade Francais in the European Rugby Champions Cup.

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