Northampton Saints plc, the parent company of Aviva Premiership club Northampton Saints, has today announced that two of the club’s directors are stepping down at the end of August.
Jon Raphael and Murray Holmes have been two important figures in the history of the Saints. As part of the ‘Gang of Seven’ consortium in 1988 they were instrumental in setting the club on the path to where it is today at the top end of English club rugby.
This included the appointment of English rugby’s first ever paid administrator, Barrie Corless, and entrenching a relationship with Keith Barwell that would ultimately see him provide funding during the transition to professionalism and then establish the Saints as the only club in the country to stand on its own two feet financially, year in, year out, for nearly two decades.
As a player Raphael was club captain in 1983/84 and played 159 times for the Saints first team. He sat on the bench for England between 1975 and 1981, went on two overseas tours and represented the Barbarians before injury brought a premature end to his career in 1984.
A former senior partner at DFA Law, Holmes has been a respected member of the Northampton business community for many years and played an important role on the club’s committee and then subsequently the board of directors.
Both Raphael and Holmes have each had the honour of serving as Saints president for a two-year spell, and are among a handful of people to be made life members of the club.
Saints chairman Tony Hewitt paid tribute to their dedication to making the club what it is today.
"Without men like Jon and Murray it is conceivable that the Saints would not be where it is today," he said. "As part of the Gang of Seven they turned the Saints around and set us on the path to being one of the most innovative clubs in the country. They had the vision to appoint the first professional rugby administrator anywhere in English club rugby, and the willingness to welcome the investment and input of Keith Barwell, buying into his belief that a club can be both financially self-sustaining and successful on the pitch.
"We can look at the likes of the teams we were playing in the league back in 1988, clubs such as Rosslyn Park, Liverpool St Helens and Headingley, and imagine that without Jon, Murray, and the rest of the consortium we could have followed them into the lower reaches of the sport, far from where we are now.
"They have earned our thanks and best wishes for the future."