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Northampton Saints captain Dylan Hartley beats teammate George North to Premiership award

Dylan Hartley is currently with England.
Dylan Hartley is currently with England. Credit: PA

Northampton Saints captain Dylan Hartley has been named the Aviva Premiership Player of the Month for January.

The 27-year-old, who's currently on international duty with England, beat his Saints teammate George North to the accolade.

Bath youngster Anthony Watson, Saracens pair David Strettle and Alex Goode, and Gloucester winger Jonny May were also shortlisted.

Northampton Saints stars keep their places for Scotland showdown but Ben Youngs misses out again

Luther Burrell scored on his debut against France.
Luther Burrell scored on his debut against France. Credit: PA

A number of Northampton Saints stars have once again been included in England's starting line-up to face Scotland in the RBS 6 Nations this weekend, as Stuart Lancaster's men look to avenge the opening round defeat to France.

England looked to be heading towards a hard-fought victory in Paris, but a last-gasp Gael Fickou try ensured that they left empty handed.

Saints centre Luther Burrell impressed on his debut in the showdown, scoring a debut try, and he will once again partner Gloucester man Billy Twelvetrees in midfield.

Ben Youngs has been overlooked again.
Ben Youngs has been overlooked again. Credit: PA

Fellow Northampton players Dylan Hartley, Courtney Lawes and Tom Wood are also named in a unchanged line-up, while scrum-half Lee Dickson is among the replacements at Murrayfield.

Norfolk-born hooker Tom Youngs misses out to Hartley in the front row, but will be on the bench.

However, brother Ben has once again missed out on making the squad, after being overlooked by Lancaster.

England team to face Scotland:

Mike Brown (Harlequins), Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs), Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints), Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester), Jonny May (Gloucester), Owen Farrell (Saracens), Danny Care (Harlequins)

Joe Marler (Harlequins), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Joe Launchbury (London Wasps), Tom Wood (Northampton Saints), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, Capt), Billy Vunipola (Saracens)

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Northampton Saints capture Samoan international Fa’atoina Autagavaia

Fa’atoina Autagavaia has joined Northampton Saints.
Fa’atoina Autagavaia has joined Northampton Saints. Credit: PA

Northampton Saints have signed Samoan full back Fa’atoina Autagavaia as cover for injured pair Ben Foden and James Wilson.

The 25-year-old has been allowed to join the Saints under the injury dispensation rule and will bring crucial international experience having amassed eight caps for his country.

Speaking to the club's offical webiste, Director of Rugby Jim Mallinder said that the arrival of Autagavaia will provide a welcome boost for his squad.

“Fa'atoina has shown over the past 18 months that he has the ability to succeed at international level."

"We are confident that he'll be able to fit in, especially alongside the Pisi brothers and Kahn Fotuali'i."

“With Ben Foden and James Wilson both out of action we’re a bit light at full back, so Fa’atoina will add to our strength in depth in what is a crucial position.”

Northampton Saints star George North vows to continue Welsh career

George North celebrates scoring against Australia.
George North celebrates scoring against Australia. Credit: PA

Northampton Saints winger George North says that he still intends to play in every Welsh International fixture, despite his club being hit with a £60,000 fine for allowing him to feature in a Test against Australia last month.

Saints were handed the punishment yesterday by a Premiership Rugby disciplinary panel because the match fell outside the International Rugby Board's designated Test window.

However, North has a clause in his contract which allows him to play in every Welsh International, and the 21-year-old is still keen to represent his country whenever possible:

"Whenever I get the chance to pull the jersey on it is a massive honour and if they say, 'George, we want you to play', then obviously I'm going to play," he told several national newspapers.

"Thank goodness the Saints are so understanding with me and allow me to pursue my international career.

"I have the utmost respect for the club and I back them 100 per cent for giving me this opportunity to pursue my Welsh career but also to play top rugby week to week.

"I came to the club because I wanted to improve myself as a player and I've enjoyed every second of it."

Read more: Northampton Saints hit with £60,000 fine for George North Wales appearance

Northampton Saints hit with £60,000 fine for George North Wales appearance

George North was released by Northampton Saints to play for Wales.
George North was released by Northampton Saints to play for Wales. Credit: PA

Northampton Saints have been fined £60,000 by a Premiership Rugby disciplinary panel for allowing star winger George North to play for Wales against Australia last month.

The fixture fell outside the International Rugby Board's designated Test window, meaning that North shouldn't have been released by his club.

George North crosses the line for Wales against Australia.
George North crosses the line for Wales against Australia. Credit: PA

However, the 21-year-old has a clause in his Saints contract which permits him to feature in all Wales Test matches.

Northampton admitted the breach and will not appeal the sanction.

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England star Tom Wood among five Saints to commit to club

Tom Wood has agreed a new deal.
Tom Wood has agreed a new deal. Credit: PA

England star Tom Wood has agreed a new contract with Northampton Saints, the club has announced.

The flanker is one of five forward to have penned new deals at Franklin's Gardens.

Christian Day is staying at Franklin's Gardens.
Christian Day is staying at Franklin's Gardens. Credit: PA

Lock Christian Day, back-rowers Sam Dickinson and Ben Nutley, and hooker Mike Haywood have also signed fresh terms.

Saints Director of Rugby Jim Mallinder says that the new deals will send out a statement of intent to other Aviva Premiership sides:

“We’re delighted that all five players have signed new contracts with us.

“They have all grown and developed in their time with us and have put in plenty of hard work on and off the field.

“Our aim is to have as good a squad as we possibly can, and this starts with making sure we re-sign the quality players we have here already.

“It is a big statement for both the club and the players that these agreements have been done so early.”

Northampton Saints duo named in world team of the year

George North races for the line against Sale Sharks.
George North races for the line against Sale Sharks. Credit: PA

Northampton Saints stars George North and Alex Corbisiero have been named in the International Rugby Players Association World XV.

The pair have been picked by their fellow players, and are the only men to make the side from the Aviva Premiership.

Alex Corbisiero has been named as one of the props.
Alex Corbisiero has been named as one of the props. Credit: PA

Unsurprisingly, there are seven players from World Champions New Zealand named in the team, whilst North's Wales teammates Leigh Halfpenny and Sam Warburton and Adam Jones were also selected.

IRPA Players' World XV of the Year:

15 - Leigh Halfpenny (Wales), 14 - Ben Smith (New Zealand), 13 - Conrad Smith (New Zealand), 12 - Wesley Fofana (France), 11 - George North (Wales), 10 - Aaron Cruden (New Zealand), 9 - Aaron Smith (New Zealand)

1 - Alex Corbisiero (England), 2 - Bismarck du Plessis (South Africa), 3- Adam Jones (Wales), 4 - Eben Etzebeth (South Africa), 5 - Sam Whitelock (New Zealand), 6 - Liam Messam (New Zealand), 7 - Sam Warburton (Wales), 8 - Kieran Read (New Zealand)

Northampton Saints issue George North statement

Northampton Saints have released a statement regarding a potential fine for releasing George North to play for Wales in this Saturday's clash with Australia.

"The Northampton Saints management has noted the media reports about a potential investigation of the club regarding George North and his playing for Wales outside the IRB window.

"Every player asks for specific conditions to be included in their agreements. This is not unusual in professional sport.

"In order to realise this rare opportunity of bringing a player like George to Franklin’s Gardens we agreed to allow him to represent Wales if and when selected.

"The Saints management wants to make it clear that our agreement with George has not contravened any laws, rules or regulations.

"However when it was finalised the agreement included terms for his release to play international rugby which were outside Premiership Rugby board policy.

"The Saints management has sought to build a squad that can compete in every tournament. This involves both establishing a strong production line of local talent and bringing in world class players when they become available.

"Sometimes this requires compromise, and while we appreciate that we are outside Premiership Rugby board policy with this particular agreement we also believe that having George as a Northampton Saints player has benefitted both the club and the league as a whole."

– Northampton Saints statement

Read more: Northampton Saints set for George North fine?

Northampton Saints set for George North fine?

George North makes a trademark break against Argentina.
George North makes a trademark break against Argentina. Credit: PA

Northampton Saints could face a fine for allowing George North to play for Wales in this weekend's match against Australia.

North has a clause in his Saints contract which allows him to play in all Wales Test matches, but Saturday's game falls outside the official window for autumn internationals.

Premiership Rugby will now investigate Northampton's decision to release him.

Read more: Saints sign Wales star North

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