Northampton fans

Northampton Saints today announced the signing of Tom May ahead of the 2011/12 season. May, 31, has a wealth of experience at international, European, Premiership and Top 14 levels from his career so far at Newcastle Falcons and Toulon, where he has played for the last two seasons. Primarily a centre, May has also shown his prowess on the wing, at full back and at fly half, and he was the Falcons’ player of the season in the 2007/08 season.

Prior to his spell on the Mediterranean coast, May was a fixture in the Newcastle Falcons team for a decade. Aged just 19 he was part of the Newcastle team that lost the Tetley’s Bitter Cup final to London Wasps in 1999, but in 2001 his two spectacular tries underpinned the Falcons’ cup final win over Harlequins.

More cup success followed in 2004, and by the time he left Kingston Park in 2009 May had full England honours to his name, too, adding to the Saxons, Sevens and Under-21 caps won earlier in his career.

Off the field, May studied business management at Newcastle University before going on to do a masters in sports management at Northumbria University, which he studied alongside his rugby commitments.

Now he returns to England to play for the club against which he played in his competitive debut back in 1999, and is excited by the prospect.

“The experience that my wife and I have had in Toulon was fantastic, but we’ve been back to England a few times to see friends and family and the opportunity to join Northampton was too good to turn down really,” he said. “Everything seems to point to Northampton being the best place for us.

“I’ve been watching on the TV the games that Northampton have played in the Heineken Cup and spoken to Phil Dowson and Lee Dickson, and all the things that I’ve heard have been good. I’m looking forward to being involved with a group like Northampton next year. When I came over to Northampton to meet Jim and the coaches and to have a look at the facilities it was something I couldn’t turn down.

“I think I’m coming back a better player. I’ve had to learn how the game differs and it’s provided me with a bit more experience as to how games can be played out. It’s quite a structured game here in France and there are times when you can bring that into the English game a bit more when it’s required in games.

“But seeing Northampton playing a running game is exciting for me, and it will be enjoyable to be a part of a club that likes to play rugby the right way.”

Director of rugby Jim Mallinder says that May will be a good addition to the Saints squad next season.

“Tom has proved his quality in the Premiership and the Top 14,” he said. “He will bring plenty of things to our squad in terms of both his experience and talent in a variety of positions across the back line. He has shown how well he can play at centre, on the wing and at fly half when needed, and as we build towards another challenging season this will be very useful for us. I’m very happy that he has decided to join Northampton and play his rugby at Franklin’s Gardens.”