Sibling rivalry will be taken to new heights in the Ford household next season after Joe's decision to join younger brother George in the East Midlands.
Fly-half Joe signed for Northampton from Leeds last week with brother George – one of the standout performers for the England Under-18s – just a short trip down the road at Leicester.
In their only ever previous meeting on the pitch, George became the Tigers’ youngest ever player in the LV=Cup clash at Headingley but it was Joe who took the bragging rights with a man-of-the-match performance in Leeds’ 28-17 victory.
Dad Mike – England defence coach – witnessed that encounter as did mum Sally-Anne who Joe revealed was cut up by seeing her offspring go head-to-head.
“It’s been a great year for us both and I think I speak for us both when I say that we’ve both really upped our games,” said Joe.
“I was targeting some LV Cup games at the start of the season so to be involved in Guinness Premiership games has been great.
“It was a strange day to make my debut against George but we both got on with our jobs and I was incredibly proud of him to make his debut before he was 17 – it was a fantastic achievement.
“I know my mum did not enjoy it seeing us play against each other but I am sure we are going to play against each other again.
“She did not really know who to support and she kept switching teams but I am sure she will be fine for next time.
“And I’m going to be a lot closer to him next season now I’ve joined Northampton. We are close as brothers but if and when we get to play each other again we will both be desperate to win the game.
“I will probably see a lot more of him as well off the pitch as well now and I want the best for him as well – apart from when he goes up against my club.”
The Fords could become the latest in a long line of brothers including the Armitages and Underwoods to pull on an England shirt together.
Leicester starlet George even turned his back on a deal with Super League giants Wigan Warriors to try and make the most of the international opportunities available in union.
He only took up the game seriously two years ago and has already become a key component of England Under-18’s all conquering side.
“It’s gone better than I could ever have imagined in rugby union because I was really torn between the two codes,” said George.
“I had been with Wigan for a long time and they wanted to keep me but after talking with my dad the international chances available in rugby union swung it for me.
“He didn’t sway me one way or the other but to go to a World Cup or even on a Lions tour would be amazing and too good to miss out on.
“But I honestly believe that the skills have transferred over and my experiences in rugby league have been a big help.
“I’m also lucky that I’m at such a good club in Leicester and the first thing I’ve got to focus on is making the step up and getting into the first-team squad on a regular basis.
“If I work hard and continue to develop physically then the coaches at Leicester have told me my chance will come.
“It will be strange playing against Joe again but we’ve got to get on with it and I’m sure we will continue to push each other on.
“And we had both better be careful – our little brother Jacob is only 11 is already showing signs that he’s going to be a quality player in the future as well. It could be a big battle to be the best player in the family.”