Saints confirm Tonga'uiha exit
March 14, 2013
Saints prop Soane Tonga'uiha will grace France's Top 14 next season%]
Soane Tonga'uiha has ended speculation about his future by confirming that he will leave Premiership side Northampton Saints at the end of the season and join French club Racing Metro.
The 31-year-old loose-head prop has long been linked with a move to the Top 14 with the Saints' signing of England prop Alex Corbisiero from London Irish a clear sign Tonga'uiha's future lay away from Franklin's Gardens - but he still admits it was still an incredibly tough decision to cut his ties at Franklin's Gardens.
"My seven years at Northampton have been very happy ones," he said. "I have been with the club through relegation to promotion to the Heineken Cup final and it is a journey that has made Saints a part of me.
"Northampton is a fantastic club, with excellent coaches, management, staff and facilities. I am surrounded by a great bunch of talented lads who I believe with the addition of incoming players (not to mention the huge talent within the Academy) will go on to win plenty of silverware."
However, Tonga'uiha was keen to stress that he would be giving his all for the Saints in the season run-in. "Finally, this is not a goodbye for the time being as there is still plenty to play for. Saints are back in the top four and this season is far from over. I hope to leave this club in a high and I still believe we have a team that can go all the way."
Director of rugby Jim Mallinder admitted that Tonga'uiha will leave a sizeable void. "Soane has been a big part of the squad throughout my time at the Saints," he said. "He has shown consistency and durability in one of the toughest positions on the field and will go down as one of the best props to play for the club, not least with 200-plus appearances under his belt.
"Soane is moving on as an individual and we will move on as a club, and now that the speculation regarding his future is over we can all put our focus on ending the season in style and getting into the Aviva Premiership play-offs."
Tonga'uiha is expected to be joined at Racing Metro by another Saints prop with Brian Mujati understood to have committed his future to the big-spending club who are also poised to confirm the capture of Ireland and Leinster fly-half Jonathan Sexton and Wales and Cardiff Blues centre Jamie Roberts.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
England broke their losing streak, but this was not them clawing their way back among the best, writes Tom Hamilton
Wales were just 13 minutes from a famous victory, but the lessons to be learned in defeat are almost exactly the same as those from previous near-misses, writes Huw Richards
Ahead of England's clash with Samoa, Scrum Sevens takes a wander down memory lane and celebrates seven examples of Pacific Islands magic
England must find a way to improve their game by tiny margins and they will get there, writes Phil Vickery