May set for Northampton switch
February 7, 2011
May joined Top 14 side Toulon from Premiership club Newcastle in 2009 © Getty Images
Northampton have announced the capture of former England international Tom May from Top 14 club Toulon.
The 31-year-old May swapped the Newcastle Falcons and the Premiership stage for the south of France in 2009 but has now agreed a return to England with the Saints and will join his new club at the end of the season.
Primarily a centre, May has also shown his prowess on the wing, at fullback and at fly half but won his two Test caps in the England midfield during the series with Argentina in the summer of 2009. He has also represented his country at Saxons, Sevens and U21 level.
"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 in a statement. "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."
May has also credited his two-season stint with big-spending Toulon, where he played alongside countrymen Jonny Wilkinson and Paul Sackey amongst others, for breathing new life into his career. "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," he said.
"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 is confident 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."
May heads for the Toulon exit following Gavin Henson's high-profile switch to the Stade Mayol Club while Saints have moved quickly to fill the void left by Joe Ansbro's imminent switch to London Irish.
© ESPN EMEA Ltd
With the Lions' tour to Australia fast-approaching, ESPN's Austin Healey and Mark Durden-Smith sat down to share their memories of the 2001 trip Down Under
Ask John answers questions on the Leopards' tour to Italy in 1974, brotherly Test sides, Pat McGrath, England's games against the Barbarians and Jacques Brunel
"We were only five metres away in the last Test of getting that try and with Jonny's inevitable conversion, we'd have won it." Tom Hamilton talks to Lions fullback Matt Perry