Northampton Saints have announced that fly-half James Grayson will depart the club following their Premiership fixture against Exeter Chiefs on Sunday.
Grayson, the son of former England number 10, Paul, is set to pursue a playing opportunity in Japan and will leave Franklin’s Gardens after 92 appearances.
The 25-year-old has scored nine tries and kicked 572 points off the tee and will say goodbye to Saints fans on the pitch at half-time in their upcoming match.
New opportunity overseas
“Jimmy came to us not long ago to say an opportunity had presented itself for him to move to Japan, and we didn’t want to stand in his way,” said director of rugby Phil Dowson.
“We understand why, at this point of his career, he wants to move away from Northampton in search of more regular playing time. Jimmy’s an incredibly competitive character, and wants the chance to show what he can do on the pitch more often.
“We are confident in the cover we have at fly-half to allow Jimmy to move on. He’s been an incredible professional while he’s been in and out of the team, with an unwavering work ethic in training to help the whole squad to progress.
“He’s a popular guy within the group, he’s been a Saint since he was 12 years old, he’s done some wonderful charity work with our Foundation, and he’s Northampton through and through – so of course we wish him well moving forward for this new challenge in Japan.”
Grayson progressed from the Saints Academy into the senior squad in 2016 and won the club’s Young Player of the Season award at the end of 2017/18.
He was top scorer for Northampton during the 2019/20 campaign with 142 points and admitted the decision to leave the club was a hard one to make.
“Without doubt this was a really difficult decision for me to make,” said Grayson. “I’ve grown up with a lot of the lads in the playing group. They’re my brothers, and it’s going to be tough to move away, but I’ll cherish every memory I made with them on and off the pitch.
“Ultimately, this is a decision driven by my desire to play more rugby, more regularly. As a professional, all you want is to be able to go out there and play on a Saturday afternoon, so I am making this move to try and further my rugby career – it is an opportunity that I felt like I couldn’t really turn down.”
Been at Saints since he was 12
He added: “Saints has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I joined the Academy at 12 years old, but even before that I was a ball boy and obviously was coming down to the Gardens regularly to watch my dad play, so Northampton will always be home for me.
“Whenever I have stepped onto the pitch at the Gardens, I’ve felt like I’ve had the backing of the Saints supporters, and I’ll be forever grateful for the way that they took me in.
“I want to thank the club for allowing me to make this move away at a time that is right for me. I also want to thank everyone – the coaches, the medical staff, the strength and conditioning staff, and so on – for all the investment they made in me over the last seven years. I feel like I have grown from a boy into a man in that time, and they’ve all played a huge role in making me a better player and a better person.
“I also have to say ‘thank you’ to my family and my partner, Jess. They’ve been with me all the way, as emotionally I’ve dealt with the highs and the lows of professional sport, and I would not be able to do it without them.”