Alex Moon Exclusive: There’s a few of us in a similar situation - It’s a dream scenario which couldn’t be written any better

Alex Moon is dreaming of a fairytale ending with Northampton Saints
©David Howlett

Alex Moon has spent nearly half of his life at Northampton Saints and knows exactly how he wants to mark his departure from the club at the end of the season.

Moon, who has signed for ambitious Top14 side Bayonne, is one of an ever-growing group of Gallagher Premiership players opting to move to France with Saints captain Lewis Ludlam heading to Toulon, while Northampton legend Courtney Lawes has chosen Brive in Pro D2 to bring the curtain down on his stellar career.

The 27-year-old, who helped the Premiership league leaders to a 41-30 win over reigning champions Saracens last Friday, is now preparing for Saints' titanic Investec Champions Cup last 16 home tie against Munster on Sunday.

With Phil Dowson's troops bidding for the Premiership and Champions Cup as one of the form teams in Europe, this could be a fairytale final season for the 6ft 8in lock who joined the club’s academy at 14 years old.

With the stars seemingly aligned for a remarkable farewell from cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens, Moon exclusively told TRU: "[Winning the Premiership] would be nuts. There’s a few of us in a pretty similar situation and it’s a dream scenario which couldn’t be written any better.

"To win that and go away off the back of that, I literally don’t have words to describe how happy I would be. It’s been so long. I've been at this club for nearly half my entire life. I love the rugby club, I love the fans, I love the guys, I love the coaches.

"In the nine years I've been at the club, I've not been in a position where I've been top [of the Gallagher Premiership] and we’re going into every weekend with the bookies betting on us to win every game. It’s so much fun at the minute at the club, having the boys back it up week on week."

Moon featured in England’s Six Nations squad four years ago, and despite not being capped, the lock forward still has international ambitions.

However, he knows trading the Midlands for life in the Basque region of France means any Test aspirations must be put on hold as England head coach Steve Borthwick cannot pick players operating outside the Premiership.

Nevertheless, the Northampton man would have caught the eye of Bayonne selectors at the end of last season after registering 240 tackles, a remarkable achievement for a second-row forward. It put level with Saints flanker Tom Pearson at the top of the Premiership tackling statistics.

Moon has always stood out from the crowd, having reached his 6ft 8in height at the age of 15 when he was a pupil at Sedbergh, one of the world’s leading rugby schools. Being so tall so early in his life did cause some problems as he explains.

"I had an extended single bed, a two-and-a-half metre-long bed! When I first went to school, I had the deputy head of house’s room when I was in fifth form (Year 11). It had this super big bed in it. Imagine how well that went down among upper sixth boys when I was there in the second biggest room in the boarding house at 15 years old!

"I was literally the size of a Prem second row at 15 years old and in the upper sixth at Sedbergh, you start getting colours and awards. I had my headmaster’s colours blazer.

"They took my measurements and sent it off to get tailored. I remember putting it on and the sleeve just about came out over my elbow and still to this day, I don’t have my headmaster’s colours because my parents said; 'There’s no way we’re buying you a vest!'"

Moon is happy to reminisce about the past and his journey with Northampton but what about the future? How does he view his move to Bayonne, who have also recently signed Manu Tuilagi?

"It came at a really good time for me because I have got the opportunity now, depending on how well it goes over there - I have got at least two years to have a go in France. I am still the right side of 30 with the possibility of coming back here and going into the 2027 Rugby World Cup season.

"Over the last few weeks, Courtney (Lawes) and I have been liaising with each other, asking loads of questions. Reece Hodge, the former Australian international, is playing at Bayonne and hasn’t had a bad word to say about it."

Besides putting in the work in training to ensure this is a special final season at Northampton, Moon is also preparing for the next chapter of his life by taking French lessons with his partner who will be joining him across the Channel.

“I studied French from four years old up until 16," Moon adds. "I had a tutor when I was younger but somehow I have managed to forget everything that I learnt which is really frustrating!

“So, I am going through the most elementary French lessons thinking; 'Oh my God. I literally did this at six years old, how have I completely forgotten this?' It is so frustrating, but I’ve got to stick at it and it is coming back!"

The continental feel for Moon will filter into this weekend with Saints resuming their Champions Cup campaign against Munster.

In the pool stages, Northampton beat the Irish province 26-23 in a thriller at Thomond Park and the 27-year-old is keen to experience more occasions such as this with Saints continuing to target silverware on two fronts.

"Northampton is all I've ever known and I felt like it was probably good for me to have another experience at some point during my rugby career but I am not distracted in the slightest from the task we’ve got at hand.

"Running out at Northampton is pretty amazing and it will be no different over the next few weeks. Even if it’s a friendly game, I still get so bloody nervous. I still can’t eat anything. It’s a bit of a stupid diet of mine, but the only thing I can eat before a game is plain white rice and sweets!

“Playing for this team, you end up caring so much for every game you play in the shirt because it’s an old historic team. For the people that have grown up around here, it’s all they’ve ever known. The team members who won the Premiership title (2013-2014 season) spoke about how many people turned out when they went on a local bus tour.

"You don’t realise how big the support base actually is. It goes beyond who you see at the weekend. It is super special that I have been able to be a part of this over the last decade."