Ben Foden

Benjamin James Foden (born 22 July 1985)[3] is a rugby union player who plays for Rugby United New York (RUNY) in Major League Rugby (MLR). A fullback or scrum-half, he won 34 caps for England between 2009 and 2013.

Ben Foden
Ben Foden - Northampton (cropped).jpg
Ben Foden playing for Northampton in 2012
Birth nameBenjamin James Foden
Date of birth (1985-07-22) 22 July 1985 (age 35)
Place of birthChester, England
Height1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)
Weight93 kg (14 st 9 lb) [1]
SchoolTarporley Community High School
Bishop Heber High School
Malpas Cheshire
UniversityManchester University
m. 2012; div. 2019)

Jackie Belanoff Smith
m. 2019)
Rugby union career
Position(s) Fullback, Wing
Current team Rugby United New York[2]
Youth career

Crewe & Nantwich , Sandbach,

Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)
Sale Sharks
Northampton Saints
Rugby United New York
Correct as of 3 May 2018
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)

England U16
England U19
England U21
England A




Born in Chester, Foden was educated at Bishop Heber High School in Malpas, Cheshire before moving to the sixth form at Bromsgrove School.[citation needed] His Bromsgrove School teacher Paul Mullan was a big influence on his career, as was his father, Rob, who coached Ben and brother Tom's youth team.[citation needed]

His career has been divided between playing at scrum-half and fullback, though he can also operate on the wing. In an interview in March 2009, Foden accepted that his future lay at playing fullback.[4]

Foden played for Cheshire and North of England U16s, and England U16s. He then went on to play for England U19s, and England Counties.


He joined Sale Sharks in 2004. Foden's desire to play scrum half saw him sign for Northampton Saints on the basis of a promise to play him at his preferred position; a promise that Sale Sharks could not give him,[5] considering his strong performances at full-back, and the club presence of England international scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth and the arrival of Welsh international Dwayne Peel for the next season. In the 2005–2006 season, Foden played as a replacement in the final as Sale won their first ever Premiership title.[6]

He gained his nickname of "Pop Idol" or "Pops" by missing the first day of pre-season with the Sharks for an audition on the programme.[7]

He began his Northampton Saints career competing with Lee Dickson for the scrum half position; Dickson won the battle for the scrum half shirt, and Northampton frequently used Foden at full back. In the 2008–09 season, he helped the Saints win the European Challenge Cup.[8]

In March 2011, following a Saints win over Wasps, Foden was arrested following an altercation with a taxi driver in London, but both Northampton and the RFU were happy to let the issue lie after he accepted a police caution.

In May 2014, Foden won the Aviva Premiership title with Northampton, playing 80 minutes plus extra time in the final against Saracens at full back and scoring a try.[9]

Foden played on the wing for most of the 2016-17 season, scoring five tries.[10] The most recent of those tries came as Saints secured their place in the European Rugby Champions Cup for the following campaign as they fought off Stade Francais in the European Champions Cup play-off final.[11]

After a decade with the club Northampton confirmed that Foden would be leaving at the end of the 2017/18 season. In July 2018, Rugby United New York announced that they had signed Foden for the 2019 Major League Rugby Season.[12]


He was included in the England U21s team for the 2005 Six Nations and World Championships, and the 2006 Six Nations and World Championship. Foden was a member of the 2006 Grand Slam winning England U21 squad, playing in all five matches and notching up three tries. He went on to play at the 2006 Under 21 Rugby World Championship later that year, sharing the number 9 jersey with Danny Care. He played for the England Sevens in 2006/7 and 2007/8, and the England Saxons at the 2008 Churchill Cup against USA before being included in the England Elite Playing Squad.

Foden was named in the England squad for the Six Nations on 14 January 2009, and earned his first cap for the England v Italy match on 7 February 2009 when he came on as a replacement at scrum-half for Harry Ellis, with England winning 36–11.[13]

He was included in the England squad for the 2009 summer tour against the Barbarians and Argentina and made his first start for England in the uncapped game against the Barbarians on 30 May 2009, a game which saw him playing on the wing and scoring a try in the 32nd minute.[14]

Despite fullback Delon Armitage being injured for the 2009 Investec Autumn Internationals, Foden was not included in the squad – manager Martin Johnson instead preferring to play wings Ugo Monye and Mark Cueto out of position.[15] By the 2010 Six Nations, Armitage was fit again, though a series of below par performances saw Foden seize the 15 shirt, with substitute performances against Ireland and Scotland, before gaining his first Test start against France. An improved performance by the England side saw Foden score his first try in a Test match, though the team lost 12–10.[16]

Foden retained his starting place for the summer tour to Australia, playing with club colleague Chris Ashton. Although England lost the first Test,[17] they won the second 20–21. He also featured as a replacement in an uncapped game for England against the New Zealand Maori side.[18]

He was named in the elite player squad for the 2010–11 season.[19] Later that year he cemented his place as England's first-choice fullback, his early flirtation with scrum-half shelved after some strong form. Foden was a key member of the side that beat Australia twice in 2010 and also started all of England's Six Nations games as they came up short of a Grand Slam in 2011. He gained more metres (100.6) in the 2011 6 Nations than any other player in the Championship. Foden was selected for England's 2011 World Cup squad, holding off the challenge of Delon Armitage to retain the fullback shirt during England's disappointing campaign.

The X Factor: CelebrityEdit

In October 2019, Foden was a contestant in The X Factor: Celebrity as a member of the group, Try Star, alongside Levi Davis and Thom Evans. They were eliminated in the semi-final, finishing in fifth place.

International triesEdit

Try Opposing team Location Venue Competition Date Result
Barbarian F.C. London, England Twickenham Summer International 30 May 2009 Lost [14]
1   France Paris, France Stade de France Six Nations 20 March 2010 Lost
2   South Africa London, England Twickenham Test match 27 November 2010 Lost
3   France London, England Twickenham Six Nations 26 February 2011 Won
4   Romania Dunedin, New Zealand Dunedin World Cup 24 September 2011 Won
5   France Auckland, New Zealand Eden Park World Cup 8 October 2011 Lost
6   France Paris, France Stade de France 2012 Six Nations 11 March 2012 Won
7   South Africa Durban, South Africa Mr Price Kings Park Test match 9 June 2012 Lost

† Full international cap not awarded for Barbarians Test match [14]

Personal lifeEdit

Foden was married to Una Healy of British-Irish girl group, The Saturdays. They married on 30 June 2012 in her native Ireland.[citation needed] On 13 March 2012, Una gave birth to their daughter, Aoife Belle Foden.[citation needed] Una confirmed on her Instagram page in September 2014 that she and Foden were expecting their second child together, due in 2015. Their son Tadhg John Foden was born on 2 February 2015.[20] In July 2018, it was announced that Foden and Healy had separated.[21] Foden remarried to Jackie Belanoff-Smith in 2019.[22] On 20 May 2020, Jackie gave birth to their daughter Farrah.[23]


  1. ^ "RFU Official Site of the RFU, Governing Body of Rugby Union in England". web page. RFU. Archived from the original on 18 August 2011. Retrieved 23 August 2011.
  2. ^ "Rugby Union should learn from US sports over player welfare, says Ben Foden". BBC Sport. 26 July 2018. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  3. ^ "RFU Official Site of the Northampton Saints - Player Profiles". RFU. Archived from the original on 13 August 2011. Retrieved 23 August 2011.
  4. ^ Wildman, Rob (13 March 2009). "Northampton's Ben Foden accepts his future is at full-back". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 16 December 2017.
  5. ^ "Saint in distress". Manchester Evening News. 1 April 2008. Retrieved 16 December 2017.
  6. ^ "Sale 45-20 Leicester". BBC Sport. 27 May 2006. Retrieved 16 December 2017.
  7. ^ Walsh, David (25 January 2009). "Ben Foden, rugby's Mr Versatile". London: Times Online. Retrieved 16 December 2017. (subscription required)
  8. ^ Pryor, Matthew (23 May 2009). "Northampton lift European Challenge Cup". The Times. London. Retrieved 16 December 2017. (subscription required)
  9. ^ "Premiership final: Saracens 20-24 Northampton Saints". BBC Sport. 31 May 2014. Retrieved 16 December 2017.
  10. ^ Ben Foden Archived 7 July 2017 at the Wayback Machine Northampton Saints. Retrieved 16 December 2017.
  11. ^ "SAINTS 23 STADE FRANCAIS 22 Friday night May lights strike again". Northampton Saints. 26 May 2017. Retrieved 16 December 2017.
  12. ^ "Ben Foden agrees to join new Major League Rugby side Rugby United New York after leaving Northampton Saints". The Independent. 26 July 2018. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  13. ^ Fitzgerald, Gary (8 February 2009). "Six Nations: England 36–11 Italy – Harry Ellis provides a boost for Martin Johnson". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 16 December 2017.
  14. ^ a b c James, Steve (30 May 2009). "England 26 Barbarians 33: Match report". The Telegraph. Retrieved 16 December 2017.
  15. ^ Westerby, John (29 December 2009). "Ben Foden senses his chance to embark on another break for the limelight". Times. London. Retrieved 16 December 2017. (subscription required)
  16. ^ Fordyce, Tom (20 March 2010). "France 12–10 England". BBC Sport. Retrieved 16 December 2017.
  17. ^ "Australia 27–17 England". BBC Sport. 12 June 2010. Retrieved 16 December 2017.
  18. ^ "Maori stun England for famous win". 23 June 2010. Retrieved 16 December 2017.
  19. ^ "Ex-England captain Steve Borthwick out of elite squad". BBC Sport. 1 July 2010. Retrieved 16 December 2017.
  20. ^ "Una Foden and Ben Foden introduce baby Tadhg". Hello!. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  21. ^ Anderton, Joe (28 July 2018). "The Saturdays' Una Healy splits from husband Ben Foden". Digital Spy. United Kingdom: Hearst Communications. Retrieved 29 July 2018.
  22. ^ Moran, Fionnuala (8 June 2019). "Who is Ben Foden's new wife Jackie Belanoff Smith Foden?". Retrieved 21 March 2020.
  23. ^ Soguksu, Ayla (22 May 2020). "Ben Foden and wife Jackie Belanoff welcome first child together". OK! Magazine. Retrieved 22 May 2020.

External linksEdit