Former Saints player and club president Raphael passes away

Jon RaphaelJon Raphael
Jon Raphael
Saints have announced the passing of former player, director and club president Jon Raphael.

The former Saints and England hooker passed away earlier this week aged 66, having featured more than 150 times for Northampton after making his debut back in 1971.One of the defining figures in the history of the Saints, Raphael was a part of the famous ‘Gang of Seven’ consortium in 1988 that was instrumental in restructuring the club, setting Northampton on course for the top end of English club rugby.As a player, the hooker was club captain in 1983/84 and played 159 times for Saints' first team. He represented England between 1975 and 1981, where he was part of two overseas tours and represented the Barbarians before injury brought a premature end to his career in 1984.Raphael had the honour of serving as Saints president for a two-year spell, and is among only a handful of people to be made a life member of the club.“Without men like Jon it is conceivable that Saints would not be where it is today,” said former Saints chairman Tony Hewitt.“As part of the ‘Gang of Seven’, he played a huge role in making Saints the rugby club that it is now and we’re deeply saddened to hear of his passing.”Saints chairman John White said: “Jon will be sorely missed, not only by everyone at Northampton Saints but also around all our opposition clubs where he was a well-known, respected and popular Saintsman.”Long-time friend and former Saints chairman Keith Barwell added: “Jon was not only a fantastic and loyal player on the pitch, but a hugely respected member of the board. "We shall all miss him greatly; our thoughts and prayers are with Kathy and his family.”