phil dowson northampton saintsNorthampton Saints have confirmed that Phil Dowson has renewed his commitment to the club by signing a new contract.

Dowson, 29, has been at Franklin’s Gardens since the summer of 2009. After racking up 128 appearances at former club Newcastle his tally of outings in the black, green and gold has risen quickly and he is just three appearances away from the 50 mark, and the Saints club cap that comes with it.

Dowson, who has shown his prowess in all three back row positions during his time in Northampton, has also doubled his try scoring strike rate while at the club. At Newcastle he scored 16 tries; at Saints he has crossed the whitewash eight times in a third as many games.

His consistent excellence in 2009/10 led to a selection in the Sky Sports Dream Team and nominations in the short lists for both the Guinness Premiership Player of the Season and RPA Players’ Player of the Season.

He will also go down in club history as the first player to lift a domestic trophy. Dowson leads the team regularly while club captain Dylan Hartley is on international duty, and he skippered the Saints to a 30-24 win over Gloucester to lift the 2010 LV= Cup last March.

Dowson had no hesitation in signing a new contract at the Saints and believes that the team is still on an upward curve with the best still to come.

“I wanted to stay and the club seemed pretty keen for me to stay, so it was a no brainer really,” he said. “I’ve had a brilliant two years here so far and I wanted to stay involved. Highlights last season were playing in the Heineken Cup quarter final, whatever the result, playing well in the Premiership and the confidence and belief in the guys around you. And the LV= Cup final, obviously. I thought that Northampton was the best place to come to win things and we achieved that in the LV= Cup and it was a privilege to be captain that day.

“The first impression of the club and the environment was the big thing for me and there is more to come. We set high standards, which come from the top, and the quality of the squad shows that we need to be ambitious. The last couple of weeks have showed that we’re not quite there yet and we’re striving to improve continuously. Off the field things have been good as well. The lads spend a lot of time together, and while we get worked hard there is a good balance in what we do.

“To be playing at a club that is well supported through thick and thin is great. The fans are very fair, and it is one of the places in the country that gives the man of the match to someone who deserves it no matter which team they’re playing for. It is a true rugby club that I’m proud to be a part of.”

Director of rugby Jim Mallinder is delighted that Dowson is staying at the club for the foreseeable future.

“Phil has been an excellent addition to our squad in the year-and-a-half he has been at Franklin’s Gardens so far,” he said. “He quickly became one of the senior players in the squad and shows his leadership skills on and off the pitch. He is also a very talented player who fits into the style of play we try to achieve here, with pace, power and good skill with the ball in hand.

“I’m delighted that he has decided to stay at the Saints and believes in where we are taking the club. We are still growing as a team and I’m confident that Phil will continue to contribute fully to our development.”