Northampton Saints have announced an intriguing partnership with Bedford Blues.
The collaboration will give rise to a symbiotic relationship within the spheres of playing, coaching and training.
Player and coaching combinations will be experimented with between the two clubs in an effort to bring available talent and potential to fruition.
“I am delighted to be able to announce Saints’ strategic partnership with a club of the calibre of Bedford Blues,” said Mark Darbon, Northampton Saints Chief Executive.
“Like Saints, Bedford has a long and proud history, with close ties to its local community, so we believe it’s a natural fit.”
“The new partnership will be mutually beneficial, aiming to bring greater benefits to players and coaching staff at both clubs, as well as helping both organisations financially.
“We very much see this as a long-term relationship, which we hope could evolve further over time.”
Among the various experiments will be an annual pre-season fixture between the clubs as they prepare to initiate their respective campaigns.
Northampton’s Director of Rugby, Chris Boyd said:
“Saints has a long history of producing high quality, homegrown talent and it is fundamentally important that this continues to be the case.
“Our new relationship with Bedford ensures that we can continue to develop our best young players by securing them regular Championship game time in a highly-competitive environment.
“Having got to know Mike Rayer and some of the Blues coaches I’m confident that we’re working with excellent people who share a similar philosophy on rugby and I’m excited about what we can do together.”
Bedford Blues Chairman, Geoff Irvine was in also buoyant mood regarding the announcement:
“We are very pleased to be able to make this announcement, not only does the relationship give us fantastic access to their players and resources, but it is a lifeline to our Club in the present situation.
“Saints is the natural fit, our near neighbours with a shared passion for history and heritage. This long-term partnership will help safeguard our Championship status and allow us to build for the seasons ahead.
“The decision was influenced by the challenging financial situation we face, not least as a result of the cuts announced by the RFU earlier this year and the uncertainty about future funding.”