Find out about the Saint’s journey from the back to the front row

Northampton Saints prop Emmanuel Iyogun

Date of birth 24 November 2000 Born Madrid Position Prop Club Northampton Saints Country England

When did you first play rugby?

I must have been 14. It was at school, Woodlands. I did take some persuading as I was more of a footballer, but I got into rugby and have loved it ever since.

Your childhood hero? 

Didier Drogba.

How did the move from back row to prop come about? 

To be honest, I didn’t really understand what I was getting into! I was an U18 academy player when Mark Hopley said, “I see a decent future for you at prop.” I thought I’d give it a go. When I started I’d play the first half at No 8, then I’d move forward.

What was the toughest part of the transition? 

The physical. Skills-wise and fitness-wise it was okay but I had to put on weight to be a senior team prop. The S&C team and nutritionists have helped.

And do you still like to get the ball in your hands? 

Yes, that’s my game. If you’re a prop who can run lines and get your hands on the ball it’s a bonus.

What are your strengths? 

I’d like to say the attacking breakdown. I want to be all over the pitch, to cover a lot of mileage as a prop and almost be like an extra back-row. I think props should hold their own in the scrum and get around the pitch. I want to nail both of them.

And work-ons? 

Probably more physical carrying. And my tackle work and being more abrasive at the breakdown.

When did you link up with Saints? 

At 16. I was playing for Southend and got spotted. It was quite a lot of travelling; I thank my parents for that. I wouldn’t be in this position without their sacrifices.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career? 

I’ll go with a coach, Matt Ferguson. If I hadn’t been coached by him, I wouldn’t be in the position I am. It’s how patient he has been teaching me.

Are you studying? 

I’m doing a joint honours law and criminology degree. It’s tough but I’m enjoying it. I’m doing it part-time so it will take five years.

RW Verdict: Northampton Saints prop Emmanuel Iyogun is becoming a regular for his club. Matt Ferguson helped Red Roses star Sarah Bern transition from back-row to prop while retaining her explosive ball-carrying ability and the coach looks to be doing the same with Iyogun.

This article originally appeared in Rugby World magazine’s September 2022 edition.

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