Tom Pearson Interview - A Year On Since Young Player of the Year

Ahead of the RPA Awards 2024, we had a chat with Tom Pearson, formerly of London Irish and now Northampton Saints, to reflect on the past year since he won the RPA Young Player of the Year 2023...

Tom, what a year it's been for you – you've gone through the administration at London Irish, to joining Northampton Saints and playing for England... how was the last year been for you? 

Yeah, I mean it’s been fairly turbulent to be fair since I won the Award last year. Obviously, the collapse of Irish was really sad at the time and and took some getting used to. I think the fact that I went straight into the World Cup prep and a bit of training there probably helped in a weird way and took my mind off a little bit, which meant I could put all my effort and energy into there, so that was good. 

How have you settled into life at Northampton Saints? 

It’s been really good. I've got a little section of my family who live in Northampton. My mum grew up here, my uncle and Grandad are still living around the area. So, I was living with my uncle and auntie to start with just to get my feet on the ground and then moved in with Fin, which has been great.  

It's a great club. I came to watch a few times when I was a bit younger and now to actually play for the club is great. It was definitely one of the clubs which I was interested in, once Irish collapsed, due to the style and brand of rugby they play. I think it’s great and I think that has shown on the pitch this season. 

It seems from the outside looking in that playing in front of a packed-out crowd at cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens – it just can’t get much better than that surely? 

Yeah, it’s unbelievable. We've been in good form, we had a hiccup earlier in the season, but since then, our home form has been great. We’ve got a big test this weekend against Munster, so the games aren’t really getting any smaller and it’s the real crunch time of the season now. We’ve put ourselves in a good position here in both the league and in Europe, so it’s our job to stay there now. 

Focusing on Sunday's game against Munster in the Investec Champions Cup, are you excited to potentially face up against Peter O’Mahony, the Ireland captain, in the back row? 

I’m massively excited. It was a good test at their place earlier in the season, at Thomond Park. We went down to 14 players and still won the game; it’ll live long in the memory, I’m sure. So, to have them come here, I know they’ve had the bit between their teeth, they will want a little bit of vengeance for what happened at their place, as they don’t lose at home very often. It’ll be a huge test for us and one to see where we’re at with as a group. 

What’s it been like to train and play alongside players like Courtney Lawes and Lewis Ludlam since you joined? 

It’s been unbelievable to learn off them. I remember the first time I started with them either side of me in the scrum, and it was unbelievable. They are both incredible players. Courtney is probably the best player I’ve ever played with, he’s like having two back rows on the pitch to be honest! But the learnings off him and Lewis have been great. It is sad to see them both move on, but we all understand their reasons and fully support them and their decisions. It has given us a bit of extra motivation heading into the final stages of the season.  

There is a lot of experience leaving this year, there’s no denying that, with Courtney, Lewis, the Waller brothers and Paul Hill all confirmed to leave. There are a lot of guys with a lot of caps there, so we’ll be in a different place next year, but as Lewis described it, it’s a bit of Last Dance for those guys, so we’d all love to for them to go out with some silverware. 

You touched on this earlier in the interview, but how was your time with England, you trained with the squad ahead of the World Cup, made your debut and trained with them ahead of the Six Nations... 

It’s been hugely enjoyable. Obviously, I would have loved to have gone to the World Cup, but just being there in the prep was a great experience. To have a full pre-season with England is pretty rare and only comes around every four years so to be able to do that was great. Plus, making my debut at the end was a dream come true. But it does seem like a long time ago now and I’m keen to kick on and get on the summer tour, if I’m honest.  

Finally, Tom, what is it like to play in one of the most competitive Premierships there have been in recent years, it’s so tight from top to bottom... 

Yeah, the run in, it is a bit mad at the moment! There are still seven or eight teams still in with a shot of the play offs, which is crazy with so few games to go. But we’ve have put ourselves in a good place, so it’s our job to stay there now. There are some big games still to be played; the East Midlands Derby in a couple of weeks, then Gloucester and then Quins at the Big Summer Kick Off as well. We’ll have our fun and fight right until the end. 

There is still time to get your place at the RPA Awards 2024, where you can mingle with the stars at one of the rugby events of the season. Visit to find out more!