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  1. Anglia

Northampton Saints pair Manoa and Ma’afu to join Toulon

Samu Manoa is heading to Toulon. Credit: PA

Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal has confirmed that Northampton Saints forwards Samu Manoa and Salesi Ma’afu will sign for his club at the end of the season.

The news will come as a blow to Northampton who had managed to tie down their other prized assets in Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes last week.

American star Manoa has been handed a four-year contract by the European Champions, and Boudjellal has backed him to impress in France.

“Samu Manoa is the first four-year contract that I have signed.

For me, he will become the star of the Top 14. He is a rugby phenomenon, made for Mayol."

– Mourad Boudjellal, Toulon owner
Salesi Ma’afu is also heading for the exit door. Credit: PA

Toulon have also agreed a deal to sign Saints prop Ma’afu, while New Zealand centre Ma’a Nonu and Clermont winger Napolioni Nalaga have also joined.

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  1. Anglia

Draw made for rugby's European Champions Cup

Northampton Saints have been drawn in Pool 5 for the European Rugby Champions Cup.

They'll play Racing Metro, Ospreys and Treviso. Last season's beaten finalists Saracens will tae on Munster, Sale Sharks and Clermont Auvergne.

Local rivals Leicester Tigers have been drawn with Scarlets, Ulster and reigning champions Toulon.

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  1. Anglia

Saints to celebrate with open top bus parade

The victorious Northampton Saints will be joining their supporters in the Market Square as they celebrate their triumph over Saracens at Twickenham.

The new Aviva Premiership champions will bring both the Premiership trophy and Amlin Challenge Cup into the town centre on Sunday 1st June.

At 12.30pm the Saints players and coaching staff will leave Franklin's Gardens on an open top bus and make their way to the Market Square. The Saints will arrive on the Market Square at around 1pm, the players will parade the both trophies before they make their way to the Guildhall.

Fans wanting to get the best view will want to gather on the Market Square before 1pm. When the open top bus arrives there will be opportunities to see the trophies and take photos.

At about 2pm the players will make their way to the steps of the Guildhall to be formally congratulate.

This is a fantastic day for Northampton. Once again the Saints have done us proud bringing not one but two trophies back home and being crowned champions of England. I am looking forward to meeting with each player at the Guildhall to let them know, on behalf of the town, how proud we are of their achievements and what they mean to our town. I would like to invite everyone to come into the town centre on Sunday to join us in recognising and celebrating the team's success. So bring your Saints colours and help us give a great welcome to the players who proudly represent Northampton every week.

– Councillor David Mackintosh, Leader of Northampton Borough Council

Saints hope for first Premiership win

Northampton may have lifted the Amlin Challenge Cup only a week ago but Stephen Myler insists the success of their season will be decided by Saturday alone.

Saints are hoping to secure their first Aviva Premiership title when they face strong favourites Saracens in front of a sell-out crowd at Twickenham.

Last year was their only previous appearance in the final, losing heavily to Leicester, and Myler admits it is time for Northampton to be crowned English champions.

"The league season is our acid test as a club and squad. We've progressed a lot this year, but it comes down to one day determining whether we've been successful or not," he said.

"That's bit of a funny scenario to be in, but it's what we must work hard for and hopefully we can do it. I believe it will come down to who plays best on the day.

"It's one each between us and Saracens in the league and we're expecting a tough battle, Saracens at their best.

"They have quality players, so I'm sure they're professional enough to overcome losing in the Heineken Cup final last weekend and get back on page for this game."

Myler was named man of the match against Bath in last Friday's European final, continuing a terrific season that could have seen him win his second cap in England's first Test against New Zealand on June 7 had be not been action against Saracens.

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