Louis Picamoles played his final game for Northampton Saints in the English side’s 23-22 win over Stade Francais. The victory ensured Saints will be playing in the European Champions Cup next season, however, it will be without the Frenchman.
The No. 8 has agreed terms to return to Montpellier where the back row played between 2004-09.
It is a big loss for the English side who have experienced an indifferent year, finishing seventh in the Aviva Premiership.
The club were reluctant to sell the French international, but pressure gave way with a reported seven-figure salary from Montpellier and a demand from the French Federation (FFR) wanting all France internationals playing their rugby in the Top 14 league.
The 31-year-old has been described as “irreplaceable” by Graham McKechnie:
“Picamoles is irreplaceable – I know we’re a given to hyperbole in sport, but he really is the best I’ve ever seen at number eight. He’s got it all; immense power and incredible off-loading game.” — McKechnie, BBC Northampton Radio
The sale of Picamoles will free up plenty of space on the salary output at Saints, as it’s thought the international was on a £500,000-a-year contract; a position they are replacing with the incoming Mitch Eadie from the relegated Bristol.
In spite of the less strain on the financial department, the loss of Picamoles is certainly a blow for the English club and Montpellier’s great gain.