Vickerman signs with Northampton Saints

Northampton Saints have announced that Dan Vickerman will be a member of the first team squad for the 2009/10 season.


Vickerman is a rugby player of immense pedigree. Capped 55 times by Australia and a veteran of two Rugby World Cups, the 6’8″, 119kg second row forward was a key figure for club and country for many years before he headed to the UK to study Land Economy at Cambridge University.


Born in Cape Town in 1979, Vickerman played for South Africa Under-21s before moving to moving to Australia, and he had the distinction of playing for his new country at Under-21 level too.

 

Australia ‘A’ honours followed in 2002 and he pulled on the Wallabies’ jersey for the first time later that year against France in Sydney.

The following season he was already a regular in the Wallabies’ matchday 22, and by 2004 he was a first choice and regarded as one of the premier exponents of second row play in the world.


Vice-captain of the team in 2006, he passed the 50-appearance mark in last year’s TriNations win over New Zealand in Sydney, with the last of his caps coming against South Africa in Durban in 2008.


Vickerman first came to prominence at provincial level at the ACT Brumbies, where he made his debut in 2001. Three years later he moved the short distance to Sydney to join the New South Wales Waratahs, whom he helped to the Super Rugby semi-finals in 2005 and 2006. His final game for the province came in the 2008 Super 14 final against the Crusaders.


Vickerman has already come up against several of his future club-mates when he played for Cambridge University against the Wanderers last year, and he played in the 2008 Varsity Match. He has signed an initial one-year contract with the Saints and will combine his academic commitments at Cambridge with playing and training at the Saints.


“Northampton is a club that has made great strides with the results that the team have had this year,” Vickerman said.


“I’ve watched them play and they play a great brand of rugby. I will also be wanting to grow as a player. Rugby is a game in which you’re continually learning and it will be fun playing under Jim and his coaching staff. And if I can contribute to the club getting better then that would be great too.


“Another good thing about the Saints is the tradition and enthusiasm for rugby that the club and its supporters have and I’m looking forward to experiencing that in person.”


Despite being just 29, Vickerman will be one of the most experienced players in terms of international caps in the Saints’ squad. Nevertheless he says that he will learn as much from the younger players as they will from him, particularly in the second row.


“I don’t know how much knowledge I’ve got!” he said.


“You learn and hopefully they learn. You draw on each other’s strengths and develop a joint relationship that drives you on and keeps you motivated. Rugby is a team sport and it is an enjoyable experience when you achieve your goals as a group.”


Vickerman was still in his international prime when he began his studies at Cambridge. But he has no qualms about the decision he made.


“I’ve no regrets about moving,” he said. “Cambridge is a great place and it has been fantastic fun. Having said that, you always miss playing rugby at the highest level. I was fortunate to experience rugby at that level but sometimes you have to move on. As it happens I’ve been a bit isolated from rugby of late – I’ve been focussing on my exams!”


Director of rugby Jim Mallinder explained why he was keen to sign Vickerman. “While players like Courtney Lawes and Juandre Kruger have performed well over the past few months it is easy to forget that they are sti

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