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George North to leave Saints at the end of the season

George North is leaving Northampton to return to Wales Credit: PA

George North will leave Northampton at the end of this season and return to Wales on a national dual contract.

The winger, who has won 69 Wales caps and scored 30 tries, has agreed a deal from next term, the Welsh Rugby Union announced on its official Twitter feed.

Northampton released their own statement confirming 25-year-old North's departure. It is not known at this stage which of the four Welsh regions he will join.

North says he's delighted to be heading back to Wales

As a proud Welshman, I am excited to be heading back to Wales. I feel that the time is right and with the benefits that come with it it was a great option for me

– George North

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Charity bike ride to every rugby club in Norfolk is underway

Riders getting set for a charity bike ride that will visit every rugby club in Norfolk Credit: Seamus Farrelly

Cyclists have set off on a journey to every rugby club in Norfolk to raise money for the Wooden Spoon charity.

From this morning until Sunday afternoon riders will be travelling around 320 miles from club to club, camping out on the pitches before continuing their journey the next day.

Some of the UK’s top rugby players have wished the riders of Club Together the best ahead of the ride.

They include Elliot Daly Joe Launchbury, and Welsh star Adam Jones. Former England star Phil Vickery is spending today with the cyclists.

The event had aimed to raise £50,000 but has already more than doubled that target so reaching more than £110,000.

All funds raised will be donated to special needs charities in Norfolk, with 50per cent going to Wooden Spoon, the Children’s Charity of Rugby which use the money on projects in Norfolk.

Watch below to see a message of support to the riders on Twitter from former Saracens and England star Charlie Hodgson

Dylan Hartley signs new deal with Northampton Saints

Hartley captained Saints to Premiership and European Challenge Cup titles in 2014 Credit: PA

Dylan Hartley has been re-appointed as captain of Northampton Saints for a second time.

It comes as the 31 year old signs a new contract at Franklin's Gardens.

His old deal had been due to expire at the end of next season.

The hooker has made more than 200 appearances for Saints since joining them from Worcester Warriors in 2006.

Last season, fellow England international Tom Wood skippered the side as Saints finished seventh in England's top flight.

Hartley has led England to successive Six Nations titles under head coach Eddie Jones.

The decision to offer Dylan the captaincy is no reflection on how Tom Wood led the team last season. Tom is an outstanding leader himself who is fully committed in training and in games each and every week, and he will remain an important part of the leadership group. But we felt that Dylan is in the right place both personally and professionally to be our captain once again.

We’re also delighted that he has signed a new contract to stay at Franklin’s Gardens. Dylan has been one of the best hookers in Europe for several years and is hugely committed to the Saints.

– Director of rugby Jim Mallinder

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
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