Edinburgh sign England international tight-head prop

Paul Hill will move north this summer after nine-seasons with Northampton Saints

Paul Hill in action for Northampton Saints against Glasgow Warriors in the Champions Cup earlier this season. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Paul Hill in action for Northampton Saints against Glasgow Warriors in the Champions Cup earlier this season. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

EDINBURGH have signed tight-head prop Paul Hill from Northampton Saints on a two-year deal starting this summer. The 29-year-old earned the last of his six England caps to date in the summer of 2021, but does not, it seems, have a Scottish blood connection which would allow him to switch allegiances under the three-year stand-down rule.

News of the recruitment of Hill – who spent nine seasons at Northampton making almost 200 appearances – comes the day after it was announced that Scotland-qualified Angus Williams and Scotland-capped D’Arcy Rae have recommitted to the club. Javan Sebastian is already signed-up until at least next summer, while WP Nel is to hang up his boots at the end of the season.

“This is a really exciting challenge and one that I can’t wait to get stuck into,” said Hill. “From everything I’ve read and heard, Edinburgh is an amazing club and city, while it will be great to test myself in a new league in the URC.


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“I’ve absolutely loved my time at Northampton Saints, and I can’t speak highly enough of the people connected to the club and fans who’ve backed me throughout my career so far. However, after nine seasons, the time was right to move on. My family and I are really excited about this move.

“From speaking to Sean Everitt [Edinburh’s head cosch], he’s got a really clear plan and vision for the club. He wants to win on the field while creating an environment and culture of winning off the field too. It’s something that I can buy into really easily.

“I’m an experienced player – I’ve played nearly 200 games for Saints – while I’m still pretty young at 29, so I know I’ve still got a huge amount to offer. Given my experience, I can hopefully help out some of the younger Scottish props coming through the system too.

German-born Hill attended Prince Henry’s Grammar School in Otley before kicking off his professional career at Yorkshire Carnegie – for whom he debuted in 2014 – before signing on with Saints after a season in the second tier.

Her was called into the England squad for the 2016 Six Nations and made his international debut in Rome during that campaign, having previously represented his country at U16, U18 and U20 levels.

Hill has made eight appearances so far this season for Northampton Saints, who sit top of the Gallagher Premiership after 13 rounds.

“We’re really happy to secure the signature of a player of Paul’s quality and experience,” said Everitt. “He’s played a lot of rugby at a top level and his arrival will only help drive standards and competition at the tight-head position.

“With WP hanging up his boots at the end of the year, it was imperative we recruited well in that department. We feel Paul has all the attributes to succeed in our pack, and he can hit the ground running straight away this summer.”


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About David Barnes 3912 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

18 Comments

  1. Is it 5 tight heads at Embra just now? – WP, Sebastian, Ray, Williams and Hislop?

    The norm for both Pro teams is 4, so I would guess one of them will be on the way out.

    Top tightheads are much in demand by Pro teams and correspondingly a big hit on the wage bill. Paul Hill looks a good enough choice and will be a good bit less expensive than WP.

    Calling for young Scots players begs the question. Where are they? Darcy Rae and Robin Hislop are both home-grown products who have probably reached their ceiling. Are there others coming through, don’t see any really at Pro level. There are very few young frontrowers in the Pro game, most don’t start to feature until they’re in their mid-twenties. Zander F and Millar-Mills are exceptional talents, not many out there like them.

    The proposed Pro A games are a good platform for the younger front rows, like Patrick Harrison and Michael Jones.

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  2. Rather underwhelming. I had a look through the Saints team sheet to see when and how often he has played for them this season. The last time I could find him getting a game was in December against Sale. Didn’t show up in any match since then. So either is injured or far down the pecking order. Looks like Davison and Miller-Mills are their normal top 2 tightwads. So cant help but feel he is just another average prop joining a group of average props.I hope I am proven wrong.

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  3. Sorry off topic but just read Fergus Burke who is SQ has signed for Sarries. Will he follow Fin Smith down the England route or see a greater potential with us post Finn R!? One can but hope as I think he is a serious player and not just prospect. Only concern is have Sarries already got him to commit his international future.

  4. Was at the South v Glasgow game on Saturday and the atmosphere was tremendous. Glory days and the reason was we were looking at Scottish players.

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      • No and there never will be until we put the heart and soul back. You look at the professional teams and the ‘soldiers of fortune ‘ brigade grow endlessly.

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  5. When is somebody on the Scottish Rugby Board (over to you John McGuigan) going to tell the apparatchiks in the performance department and our two pro sides to stop recruiting second-rate NSQ players and start promoting home-grown talent. Just about the last thing Edinburgh needs is another front five player.

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    • Hill is an upgrade on all current tightheads so is a good signing. Problem is the resigning of the two 30odd squad fillers rather than young SQ players.

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      • Hill is not an upgrade on either Sebastian or Rae. Simialr level in open play but poorer in the scrum than either (the last being why England never went back to him)

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      • Septic sorry man I just don’t agree if Javan gets a run iniury free maybe but Rae has been stealing a wage all season and they’ve just given him a new contract.
        Hill will be starting tighthead next season and is a good signing.

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      • Adam, Rae can’t get a game, but you would need to ask the Edin management why. He is a formidable scrummager. Enough to say that a club who signed and has kept De Bruin as a tight head hasn’t a clue.

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  6. Do they have specific qualification criteria to cover being born on a military base abroad? Really have no idea.
    If you can pick and choose in those circumstances, opens up a whole load of possible dubious practices for getting rugby wives to give birth abroad😯.

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  7. If he was born in a military hospital while in Germany – he is technically eligible to represent Scotland.

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      • Plan?? It’s the SRU….that’s a four letter word to them. Heartwarming to see a 29 yr long term signing to ensure we keep those awful Scottish kids from playing…..£10 million loss last season and still signing journeymen who will contribute zilch other than blocking the pathways. He certainly isn’t going to bring silverware and will have no sell on value. Must be utterly soul destroying being in the academy hoping for 90 seconds of rugby every 6 months. We shouldn’t be spending any money on players outwith the domestic system until we are at profit and we have a verified increase in players numbers from age grade to senior. Blocking the pathways is a cancerous policy which is killing the sport.

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      • Come on RugbyFan, it’s not Hill blocking the pathway it’s the resigning of Rae and Williams. You need good quality experienced pro’s to support the team and Hill fits the mould and at 29 has a good few years and will be a big saving on Nels wages. Edinburgh could sign Uini Atonio and he wouldn’t bring silverware that’s a terrible metric.
        Aside from Blyth-Laffert who are the young Scottish props you are talking about at Edinburgh?
        As for sell on value what are you talking about man.
        Blocking the pathway with average pros is the problem who add nothing and arent going to devlop. A big clear out of deadwood needed, unfortunately the resigning of Williams and Rae doesn’t signal much hope.

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