Departing Saints assistant coach Paul Grayson has spoken of his pride at ‘being a part of the history of one of the great clubs’.
It has been announced that Grayson is leaving Franklin’s Gardens ‘by mutual consent, and with immediate effect’, bringing to an end his 19-year association with Saints.
As a player, fly-half Grayson is still the club’s all-time leading points scorer with 2,784 scored in 259 games, and he will also go down in club folklore as the man that kicked all the club’s points in their 9-8 European Cup Final win over Munster at Twickenham in 2000.
After retiring as a player, he enjoyed a spell as head coach and then as assistant to director of rugby Jim Mallinder.
But his time as a Saints is over, and Grayson said: “I have put heart and soul into the club over many years, as have my wife and children.
“I enjoyed myself as a player here, and over the past few years it has been satisfying to have played a part in helping the Saints get back to the top of the club game.
“I am proud to have been a part of the history of one of the great clubs.
“I’d like to thank the Barwell family for everything they have done for me and my family over the years, as well as the Saints fans for all their support.”
So what now for Grayson?
“After 19 years at Franklin’s Gardens I need to prioritise my wife and children and make some sacrifices for them,” he said.
“As such, I am happy to step away from my role with the club in good health and on the right path, and look forward to exploring the many opportunities that are out there in the world of rugby.
“I look forward to watching the Saints progress and wish Jim, Dorian, the players and staff every success.”
Saints chairman Leon Barwell said that Grayson deserved total respect for what he had achieved over the past 19 years.
“Paul has been at Franklin’s Gardens for the best part of two decades, which is longer than just about everyone else at the club,” he said.
“It’s fair to say that we would not have won the Heineken Cup without him, and we were proud to see him represent the club on the biggest stages of all, including successive Rugby World Cups and with the British and Irish Lions. He is our record point scorer and never let the side down.
“In more recent years he has worked with Jim Mallinder and Dorian West to get the Saints back to the highest levels of English and European rugby. However, this is a professional sport and tough decisions are sometimes taken which we just have to get on and make the best of.
“We are parting amicably and I’m sure that everyone associated with the Saints wishes Paul and his family every success in whatever he chooses to do in the future.”