Dowson back at the Saints
NEWS: Northampton Saints legend Phil Dowson has returned to his former stomping ground taking up the role as assistant coach for the 2017/18 season.
Phil Dowson wrote his name into the club’s history by being the first player to lift a major domestic trophy in black, green and gold, the 2010 LV= Cup, just one of his 187 first team appearances in a six-year playing career at Franklin’s Gardens.
Dowson – who also helped lift the Premiership and European Rugby Challenge Cup trophies in 2014 – was one of the senior leaders throughout his time at the club, driving standards on and off the pitch, and this summer he will be back in the East Midlands in a new role of assistant coach.
Dowson completes a coaching quartet also including Alan Dickens, Mark Hopley and Dorian West.
A former scrumhalf with Sale, Leeds, Saracens and the Saints, Dickens won the European Rugby Challenge Cup as a player before making the move into coaching in 2010 with the Saints Senior Academy.
Dickens will build on his work leading an attack which has seen the Saints team average three-and-a-half tries per game since the turn of the year, while Hopley steps up from his role as Senior Academy coach to run the first team’s defence. West continues as forwards coach.
Director of rugby Jim Mallinder says that he has full confidence in the coaches’ abilities to bring the best out of the players and get the team back to the top of English rugby.
"We believe we have a strong, stable and committed group of coaches that will take the team forward next season," he said.
"The first half of the current season was not what we wanted it to be, but since Christmas we have been playing some good rugby in all competitions, scoring tries and being very competitive in every game.
"Dorian, Alan and Mark have a strong working relationship and we are seeing the benefits of that on the pitch. Alan’s qualities were recognised last season when he helped England Saxons to a two-nil series win over the Emerging Springboks, Mark deserves his opportunity at this level after his excellent work with the Senior Academy over a number of years and the first team in the past few months, and both of them have achieved the highest possible level of coaching qualifications with the RFU.
"Stability is a hallmark of many successful teams, but it also good to freshen things up and we’re delighted to be welcoming Phil Dowson back to the club.
"Phil has been a leader throughout his playing career, whether at Newcastle, here at the Saints, or with the England Saxons, and played a key role in establishing the culture that took us to the top of the Premiership. He was always a coach on the field and we know that he will have the respect of the players.
"He’s had a great playing career and has everything it takes to be a successful coach, too,"
Dowson is looking forward to returning to Franklin’s Gardens to begin the next stage of his career.
"The Saints was where I enjoyed most of my success as a player, and in my six years there we were competing in semifinals and finals each season," he said.
"So while I’m sad to be retiring this is a great opportunity to get involved with the club that I love. I obviously know Jim, Dorian, Alan and Mark really well, and how the club works, and this will be a massive help as I make the transition into the next stage of my career onto what will be a steep learning curve.
"Franklin’s Gardens is a special place, and throughout the club – players, coaches, staff, ownership and supporters – everyone wants the Saints to be successful. It’s a strong club with strong values and culture, and I’m looking forward to getting on the other side of the fence and helping the players get better and to achieve things,"