Paul Smith’s guide to Sale

Nuneaton Telegraph - - SPORT -

MEET Sale – or, as they have been known since 1999, Sale Sharks.

Founded in 1861, Sale were one of North­ern Eng­land’s lead­ing clubs through the ama­teur era. They have been in English rugby’s top flight since 1994, dur­ing which time they have won a sin­gle ti­tle in 2006.

Sale have twice claimed the sec­ondtier Euro­pean Chal­lenge Cup, in 2002 and 2005. The Premier­ship’s all-time top two try-scor­ers, Mark Cueto and Steve Han­ley, are both for­mer Sale play­ers.

Where’s home?

Sale left their Hey­wood Road home to ground-share with Stock­port County at Ed­g­ley Park in 2003. They moved on again to the newly-con­structed 12,000-ca­pac­ity AJ Bell Sta­dium in Sal­ford in 2012. Their home is shared with rugby league club Sal­ford Red Devils.

Who’s in charge?

Sale has been owned by Cheshire businessman Brian Kennedy since 2000.

Sale’s di­rec­tor of rugby, Steve Di­a­mond, played over 350 games for the club be­tween 1989 and 2001. His coach­ing ca­reer also be­gan with the Sharks, be­fore he en­joyed spells with Eng­land Sax­ons and Sara­cens,

Hav­ing re­turned to Sale as a Di­rec­tor, Di­a­mond put his boots back on fol­low­ing the de­par­ture of Tony Hanks in 2012, and has been there ever since. His as­sis­tants are for­mer rugby league stars Paul Dea­con and Mike For­shaw.

Fa­mous for­mer play­ers?

For­mer Coven­try, Eng­land and Bri­tish Li­ons prop Fran Cot­ton, who also founded cloth­ing em­pire Cot­ton Traders with an­other ex-Sale and Eng­land skip­per Steve Smith, was a Sale stal­wart.

World Cup win­ner Ja­son Robin­son played most of his union at Sale, af­ter switch­ing codes.

Sky Sports pun­dit Dewi Mor­ris had a spell with Sale, as did re­cent French coach Philippe St An­dre. His coun­try­man Se­bastien Cha­bal, Ar­gen­tin­ina’s Juan Martin Fer­nan­dez Lobbe, Welsh scrum half Dwayne Peel and Scot­land’s Brian Redpath are all no­table for­mer Sharks.

Who should we look out for on Satur­day?

RFU chair­man and for­mer Bri­tish Li­ons’ skip­per Bill Beau­mont’s son Josh is a hugely promis­ing No.8 who seems set to fol­low his Dad into in­ter­na­tional rugby.

Eng­land fly half Danny Cipri­ani, who is some­thing of a ‘Mar­mite’ fig­ure, is Sale’s match-win­ner at fly half.

Sale will choose be­tween a pair of veter­ans scrum halves in Ire­land’s Peter Stringer and Scot­land’s Chris Cusiter, while Cana­dian in­ter­na­tional and for­mer Cov favourite Phil Macken­zie will ap­pear on the Sale wing.

Cur­rent Wasps Si­mon McIn­tyre, James Gaskell and Rob Miller are all for­mer Sharks. Gaskell is the youngest cap­tain in Sale’s 154-year history while Cipri­ani be­gan his ca­reer with Wasps, prior to mov­ing abroad.

Wasps’ as­sis­tant for­wards coach Andy Tit­ter­rell spent six sea­sons with Sale, dur­ing which he was capped by Eng­land. Cen­tre Chris Bell ap­peared for both clubs and Kiwi Tony Hanks has coached both.

Both clubs?

How are they do­ing this year?

Sale are un­beaten at home, thanks to a draw with New­cas­tle and two wins, but have lost all four games away from Sal­ford. They are cur­rently along­side Wasps in mid-ta­ble, and are with­out a league win since Novem­ber 1.

Re­cent Wasps v Sale matches?

Sale have been some­thing of a bo­gey team for Wasps in re­cent times, win­ning eight of the clubs’ last ten en­coun­ters. Dai Young’s team are also win­less in their last five vis­its to Sale.

Sale Sharks’ big­gest win came in 2010 when they beat El Salvador 97-11. How­ever, this was the Span­ish club who they faced in the Euro­pean Chal­lenge Cup rather than the South Amer­i­can coun­try!

Bizarre fact?

Danny Cipri­ani, once of Wasps now a key man for the Sharks.

Steve Di­a­mond

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