Last season's Heineken Cup beaten finalists,Northampton Saints, have announced that Calum Clark has signed a new contract with the club.
The 22-year-old forward has just started his second season at the Saints, having arrived at Franklin's Gardens last summer from Leeds Carnegie.
After making his debut in the East Midlands derby win over Leicester, Clark went on to play more times in the first team than any other Saints player, his start in the Heineken Cup final being his 35th appearance of the season.
Along the way he captained the Saints team on a number of occasions in Aviva Premiership Rugby and LV= Cup. This built on the leadership experience gained in the 2009 IRB Junior World Championships, when Clark skippered England to the final.
His performances ensured Clark was overwhelmingly voted the Saints Young Player of the Season by the club's supporters.
"I certainly hope that the fans will see me improve in the next few years," he said. "I definitely feel like Northampton is the right club to be at, especially at this stage of my career. The coaches are very hands on and talking to us as players. They're focused on the team winning and players getting better as individuals and achieving the most they can.
"Moving to a club that is in a strong position off and on the field has really helped me plan for the future. I've been able to focus on the rugby and I definitely feel like I've improved as a player."
Director of Rugby, Jim Mallinder, said that having Clark commit himself to more service at the Saints this early in the season is a great statement of intent by the player and club alike.
"In a short period of time Calum has become an integral member of the squad," he said. "He can play in both the back row and second row, which gives a lot of flexibility, and he always gives 100 per cent to the team effort. Calum has also shown his leadership skills on many occasions and it is easy to forget that he is still in the early years of his career."
As part of the build-up to next month's Cardiff 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals weekend, ERC has joined forces with the WRU, Cardiff Blues and adidas to develop an annual grassroots community rugby programme targeting young players.
The Ulster Rugby full back, Jared Payne (No 15), has been suspended for two (2) weeks following an independent Disciplinary Hearing in Dublin arising from the Heineken Cup quarter-final match against Saracens at Ravenhill Stadium on Saturday, 5 April.