Northants legend and Saints lock strike up fantastic friendship

Allan Lamb
Allan Lamb

There is a story behind David Ribbans' nickname - and it involves a Northants cricketing hero.

When you hear that Saints lock Ribbans is called Ribeye by his team-mates, you may think there isn't much to it.

But the tag actually wasn't given to him by anyone at Franklin's Gardens.

Instead, it originates from a barbeque at the house of Allan Lamb.

"Allan was hosting a barbeque and Calum Clark, who knew him at the time, said we'd signed a new South African and asked if he could bring me along," explained RIbbans, who joined Saints from South African outfit Western Province in the winter of 2017.

"Allan always wants a South African in his house and that's where my name Ribeye came from - Allan Lamb gave it to me because I ate far too much of their meat. That's where Ribeye was born and I've been going back to his house ever since.

David Ribbans has formed a great friendship with Allan Lamb

David Ribbans has formed a great friendship with Allan Lamb

"I've met the whole family and they've really taken me in and looked after me.

"It's been great because when I moved here I was only 21 years old and I didn't have that family feeling away from home but they've been there for me."

Though Ribbans didn't know too much about Lamb at the time of the barbeque, the Saints forward's father certainly did.

"I knew of the name and when I told my father I was going to Allan Lamb's house he went a bit quiet on the phone and said 'do you know who you're going to see tonight?'," Ribbans said.

"My father had grown up watching him play cricket and destroying the West Indies in Test series and things like that.

"I didn't know at the time but I've done my research ever since and I do know all about him now.

"He's a great guy and he and his family have allowed my parents to come over and stay in their house, they often have me over for dinners and they've been amazing to me.

"It's great support to have here in the UK.

"Allan is a pretty humble guy and he doesn't speak much about his cricket experience so he makes it pretty easy to have a normal conversation with him.

"They are hospitable people and it's been amazing getting to know them."

Ribbans' father, Andrew, is now his son's No.1 fan, having initially been dubious about a career in rugby.

Andrew believed his son would eventually become part of his property business, but Ribbans was to prove his dad wrong.

He enjoyed a rapid rise through the ranks in Cape Town, helping their Under-19s win the Provincial Championship before making his first-class debut in the Vodacom Cup in 2015.

Ribbans was then included in the Stormers’ Super Rugby squad in 2016, as well as being named Western Province’s young forward of the year.

And he soon attracted the interest of Saints, who brought him to England midway through the 2017/18 season.

Ribbans scored a hat-trick in a friendly at Bedford Blues, introducing himself in some style, and he has gone from strength to strength ever since, making 42 appearances so far and become a regular starter in the second row.

"I'm really enjoying my time here," Ribbans said.

"I'm only 23 years old and this is my second season here so I'm still learning a lot along the way.

"I'm very much settled in with the team, I've got a great group of friends in Northampton and England.

"I don't think you ever get used to the weather but in terms of life in England, I'm really settled and enjoying it."