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Gibson says COVID-19 is the reason for his departure

BY Grant Constable  ·  Monday Jun 29, 2020

Outgoing Northampton Saints flanker Jamie Gibson has said he was ready to sign a new contract with the club before there were “very sudden sacrifices” due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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It was announced today that the 29-year-old will leave Franklins’ Gardens on June 30 ahead of the return of the Gallagher Premiership in August. 

Gibson said on social media it was a “true pleasure” to play for Saints, having joined from their bitter rivals Leicester Tigers in 2015. 

He also elaborated on the circumstances that have seen him leave the Midlands club, which are largely down to the increased financial pressure clubs find themselves under during the coronavirus pandemic. He said:

“Up until just a few weeks ago the club and I had been virtually ready for me to sign a newly drafted contract, but the increased pressure Coronavirus has placed on all the clubs has meant some very sudden sacrifices.

“Whether I run out at the Gardens again or not, I’d like to take this moment to thank all my coaches, the staff and the supporters for making my time here a memorable one.

“With a potentially blank page ahead, I’ve been lining up several things both inside and outside of rugby. Whether I’ll be back in a shirt playing again soon or not, my family and I are very excited about what the future holds.”

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The sustained lack of rugby for such a period has meant there are huge monetary repercussions for clubs in the Premiership, which is one of the contributing reasons as to why the salary cap was reduced earlier this month. 

While there were always going to be job losses as a result of this, not many players have been as candid as Gibson in explaining how close he was to staying with the Saints. 

The flanker was in the process of rehabbing when the pandemic broke out, having broken his ankle against Leinster at the Aviva Stadium last December, which will now prove to be his final appearance for the Saints. 

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