Northampton Saints hooker Mike Haywood has announced his retirement from professional rugby at the end of the 2022/23 season.
The 31-year-old has made an incredible 269 appearances to date in Black, Green and Gold, scoring 34 tries in a career spanning 13 seasons at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens.
Haywood departs the Club to take up a coaching position at St Joseph’s College in Ipswich – a school which brought through current Saints first-team players Lewis Ludlam, Alex Moon, Emmanuel Iyogun, and Karl Wilkins – but insists he leaves Northampton with a heavy heart and memories to last a lifetime.
Southend-born Haywood rose through the ranks within Saints’ Academy system and Colchester RFC, and signed his first full-time contract at the Club back in 2010/11, becoming a first-team regular for Northampton the following campaign and playing no fewer than 18 games a season for seven years until, unfortunately, injury struck in 2018.
He started both the victorious Premiership Rugby and European Challenge Cup finals in 2014, as well as the epic win over Leicester Tigers in that year’s Premiership semi-final. In the summer of 2016, Haywood was named in the Premiership Dream Team after a string of impressive performances during the 2015/16 season.
The hooker then became Saints’ top try scorer the following campaign, scoring eight times in 29 appearances that term, and played almost every game of the 2017/18 season – scoring an outstanding effort against Harlequins which was nominated for the league’s Try of the Season.
Despite a serious knee injury picked up on his 200th Saints appearance in 2018 keeping Haywood on the sidelines for most of the 2018/19 campaign, the hooker’s third piece of silverware with Saints came that term as the side toppled Saracens in the Premiership Rugby Cup final.