Northampton sign legend’s son to add a ‘massive physical presence’

Northampton have confirmed the eight youngsters who will join the club’s senior academy in 2024/25, a list that includes the son of a Saints legend.

Former Tonga international Soane Tonga’uiha spent seven seasons at Franklin’s Gardens, the giant marrying his power to a reputation for mobile, aggressive ball-carrying.

Having moved to England to join Bedford, he linked up with Northampton in 2006 and went on to make nearly 200 appearances for the club before exiting in 2013 and playing for Racing, Oyonnax, Bristol, and Ampthill.

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He was back at Franklin’s last Saturday for the on-pitch presentation at the Gloucester game to his son Sonny after the aspiring prop was signed for the club’s senior academy having started for their Premiership academy U18s in their final earlier this year versus Bath at Kingsholm.

Sonny joined the club’s academy at U14s level and has been involved in a handful of England camps over the last two seasons.

A statement read: “Aiden Ainsworth-Cave, Tom Dye, Louis Haley, Billy Pasco, Ollie Scola, Sonny Tonga’uiha, Jonny Weimann, and Rafe Witheat will all join in the summer after signing their first professional contracts.

“All eight players starred for Saints’ U18 side this season, as Northampton reached a third successive Premiership Rugby Academy League final.

“Meanwhile Ainsworth-Cave, Weimann, Dye, and Witheat all also represented England at U18s level during this year’s Six Nations Festival.”

Academy coach Charlie Reed said: “Sonny is a massive physical presence on the pitch, but he’s also someone who has worked extremely hard off of the pitch in order to get himself in the best physical condition possible to go and play.

“Sonny is a great long-term project for us, and someone who has got real potential to kick on.

“We believe the senior academy signings all have what it takes to play at the very highest level eventually, but for now they have to focus on adapting to training every day.

“They all have a fantastic attitude, and are supportive of each other – I have no doubt they will be pushing each other to get better next season and beyond.”


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