Northampton Saints have announced the signing of record South Africa cap holder Victor Matfield, with the lock set to join the Aviva Premiership club after the Rugby World Cup on a one-year deal.
The 38-year-old, who will be the oldest player at the World Cup which begins later this month, joins from South African Super Rugby side the Bulls after bringing an end to his third spell with the club.
Having appeared 123 times for his country, Matfield’s experience will be vital to a Springboks side that is short on form heading into the World Cup following three straight losses in the Rugby Championship. The second-row will feature in his fourth World Cup should he be selected, having played in the 2003 and 2011 tournaments as well as starring in South Africa’s successful 2007 campaign when he put in a man-of-the-match performance against England in the final.
Speaking to the Saints’ official website, Matfield revealed how he nearly joined the Northamptonshire club in 2008 following the World Cup success, and admitted he is delighted to finally become part of the Premiership side.
"Seven years ago Saints very nearly became my rugby home and I feel privileged to be given another opportunity to join the club," Matfield said.
"I join Saints to make the best contribution I possibly can and I have a genuine desire to hopefully play an instrumental role in a team effort, with the aim of lifting silverware in both the Aviva Premiership and the European Rugby Champions Cup.
"For now I will focus only on the Springboks' campaign to win the Rugby World Cup, but I am very excited about the journey with Saints from November onwards."
Northampton’s director of rugby, Jim Mallinder, expressed his delight at signing one of the world’s most successful second-rows with three Super Rugby titles and three Currie Cup winners’ medals complimenting his World Cup success, and Mallinder feels that his knowledge of the game can help Saints both on and off the field.
"Victor is one of the outstanding forwards in world rugby," said Saints Mallinder.
"We're very much looking forward to Victor joining up with the squad and believe he has a lot to offer the club, not only on the field, but also off it in terms of his leadership qualities and experience."
Matfield’s immediate task will be to help South Africa negotiate Pool B of the Rugby World Cup as they face opposition in Scotland, Samoa, Japan and the United States, with a possible quarter-final against England, Australia or Wales a likely outcome.
Matfield will join up with the rest of the Saints squad once his World Cup commitments have been fulfilled, although the Premiership season is due to begin on the weekend of 16 October – two weeks before the end of the World Cup.Reuse content