Northampton Saints relaxed after qualifying

Northampton Saints will be able to sit back for the rest of the weekend and relax after they became the first team to qualify for the 2011 Heineken Cup quarter-finals.

Northampton’s qualification is in stark contrast to last season when none of the English teams qualified for the quarter finals.

Saints coach Jim Mallinder is naturally delighted that his team not only sealed the top spot in Pool 1 but also that they did it with a match spare.

Northampton have a game in hand and could win all of their Pool matches if they remain unbeaten next weekend.

Just three English teams have won all of their pool matches – Bath, with six out of six in 2001/02, London Wasps, with six out of six in 1997/98 and Leicester Tigers, with four out of four in 1996/97.

“We are delighted to be in the quarter-finals and it is another great step forward for the club. But now we have to try to get a home quarter-final by winning in Castres next week,” said Saints director of rugby Mallinder told ERCRugby.

“This is the second year in a row we have qualified for the knock-out stages and I think we have learned the lessons of our two trips to Munster last year where we lost in the Pool and the quarter-finals.

“We’ve had some good wins away from home this season, especially in Edinburgh and Cardiff in the Heineken Cup, but it would be great to have a home draw in the quarter-finals.

“We have discussed the possibility of moving to Milton Keynes if we did get a home quarter-final, but nothing has been decided as yet. For the rest of the weekend we will sit back and see how the other sides go.”

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