Sale Sharks

Sale Sharks
Full name Sale Rugby Union Football Club
Founded 1861 (1861)
Location Barton-upon-Irwell, Salford, England
Ground(s) AJ Bell Stadium (Capacity: 12,000[1])
Coach(es) Steve Diamond
Captain(s) Josh Beaumont
League(s) English Premiership
2015–16 6th
1st kit
2nd kit
Largest win
Sale Sharks 97 – 11 El Salvador
Largest defeat
Sale Sharks 7 – 84 Bath Rugby
Official website

Sale Sharks is an English professional rugby union club who play in the English Premiership.

The club is an offshoot of amateur club Sale FC, still based at Heywood Road in Sale, while the Sharks share the A.J. Bell Stadium with Salford Red Devils rugby league club.[2]

Their junior team, the Jets, has developed players including Steve Hanley, Mark Cueto, Dean Schofield, Chris Jones, Andy Titterrell and Charlie Hodgson.



The club was founded in 1861 and is one of the oldest clubs in English rugby. Throughout their history they have been one of the leading rugby union clubs in the North of England. Sale moved into Heywood Road in 1905 and would remain there until 2003.[3]

Sale were unbeaten in 26 matches, winning 24 and drawing two in 1911.

Although Pat Davies is counted as Sale's first international, having been picked to play for England in 1927, it was G.A.M. Isherwood who was Sale's first representative in an international Test match,[4] when he played in all three tests of the 1910 British tour to South Africa at scrum-half.[5] The club has consistently provided international players and, during the 1930s, had one of its most dominant periods, fielding players of the calibre of Hal Sever (England), Claude Davey and Wilf Wooller (Wales) and Ken Fyfe (Scotland). It came as little surprise when they took out the 1936 Middlesex Sevens.

Sale ruled the roost in county cup rugby for 15 straight seasons as they went unbeaten from 1972 to 1987 in every one of those cup fixtures. During this period, Sale competed for the chance to be English club champions. In their first year, one after the inaugural competition kicked off in 1971, they made the semi-finals only to lose to eventual winners Coventry 35–6.

Professional era

During the nineties, despite thrilling displays under Paul Turner, and his successor John Mitchell, both club and ground struggled to keep a grip on the demanding commercial and financial realities of running a professional rugby club.

Sale took 20,000 fans to Twickenham for the 1997 Pilkington Cup Final but Leicester won a mistake-ridden match 9–3. This interest quickly faded and the anticipated increased crowds never materialised and relegation from the Premier Division loomed until rugby union-playing local businessman Brian Kennedy came to the rescue late in the 1999–2000 season. Since then, the club has been on a sound financial footing.

Off the field, Peter Deakin was recruited from Warrington Wolves rugby league as chief executive to employ the skills he had used with the Bradford Bulls and Saracens and he made an immediate impact in raising the club's profile until hit by the serious illness which claimed his life in February 2003.

Success was not immediate; Sale Sharks finished eleventh and tenth in the 12-strong Premiership table in the first two years of the new Millennium. It took the coaching partnership of two former Sale players, Jim Mallinder and Steve Diamond, to produce a team that were 2002 runners-up and qualified for the Heineken Cup.

Player signings matched the elevated profile of the club. Scotland skipper Bryan Redpath was joined by Stuart Pinkerton, Barry Stewart, Graeme Bond, Jason White and Andrew Sheridan. The club then turned to the wealth of talent, hitherto largely untapped, in Rugby League. Apollo Perelini, known as "The Terminator" for his uncomprimising style, joined Sale Sharks the day after helping St Helens to victory in the Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford and the media had a field day when Jason Robinson, possibly the most exciting wing in the world in either code, moved to Sale from Wigan Warriors.

In 2002 the team also went on to capture the Parker Pen Shield at Oxford's Kassam Stadium, defeating Pontypridd 25–22.

The latter Mallinder days saw the club at Twickenham again in 2004, losing narrowly to the Falcons in the Powergen Cup Final. In the summer of 2004 Jim Mallinder left Sale to take up a position in the RFU's National Academy. Following Mallinder's departure Sale appointed former French international Philippe Saint-André who had recently been turned down for the vacant position as coach of Wales. However, with a new influx of players including French internationals Sébastien Bruno and Sébastien Chabal helped Saint-André and Sale win the 2005 European Challenge Cup again at Oxford, this time 27–3 against Pau, for the second time in three years.

2005–06 season: Champions

New additions to the squad for the 2005–06 season included French prop Lionel Faure, Samoan back Elvis Seveali'i and Welsh number eight Nathan Bonner-Evans.[6] Building on their European Challenge Cup success, Sale won 16 games out of 22 to finish two games clear at the top of the table. In the semi-final, they won 22–12. They won the 2006 Premiership title with a 45–20 win against Leicester Tigers.


After the success of the 2005–06 season many at the club had hoped for a repeat. However an injury crisis struck. More and more injuries were picked up over the following months until Sale were left with only 17 of a 38-man squad fit to play in their final Heineken Cup match against Ospreys.[7]

In 2007–08, it was World Cup year so the club was without some of out big names. Sale appointed James Jennings as the new chief executive and Dean Schofield as the new captain. Sale had signed some good players but the biggest signing had to be Luke McAlister from the Blues in New Zealand. The season was up and down in parts though. The up parts were; beating Leicester Tigers home and away was a first. However, the low points were not qualifying for the semi finals in the Premiership or win a trophy.[7]

On 19 August 2008, Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe was announced as the captain for the new season, replacing Jason White who was still recovering from an injury. A new Premiership record of four games without leaking a try was set at the start of the season, these games were Newcastle (A), Saracens (H), Bristol (A) and Gloucester (H). Sale was knocked out of the European Cup in the group stages. Despite earning a win over Clermont, a defeat at home to Munster, a defeat to Montauban and Munster beating The Sharks in Ireland led to an exit. Charlie Hodgson was voted the player of the year at the club's end-of-season awards on Thursday 30 April 2009.

Philippe Saint-André stepped down from his position as Director of Rugby at the end of the 2008–09 season. Along with the departure of Saint-André, a number of key players announced that their time at Sale was up. Captain Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe and cult figure Sébastien Chabal all bade farewell to the club at the end of the season.[8][9]

2009—2013: Near relegation

For the 2009–10 season, Kingsley Jones was promoted from Head Coach to Director of Rugby; former Sale winger Jason Robinson became head coach.[10] Sale had a disappointing 2009–10 season, finishing 11th in the Premiership and only securing safety from relegation on the penultimate weekend of the season. Sale's Heineken Cup campaign also ended in disappointment. The highlights of the campaign were a 27–26 win at home to Cardiff and wins home and away against Harlequins.

There were changes made in the coaching staff. Keith-Roach stepped down from his duties after deciding he could not commit to a full-time role.[11] Robinson, who originally had no intentions to coach but responded to the club's request for help,[11] left the club.[12] Former All Black forward Mike Brewer replaced Robinson as head coach, while Kingsley Jones remained as Director of Rugby.[12] In December 2010, after only eight months in the role, Brewer was sacked as head coach. Academy coach Pete Anglesea took over as first team coach on a temporary basis until the end of the season, leading Sale to a 10th-placed finish.

In the 2011–12 pre-season, former player Steve Diamond was announced as chairman. Immediately, an overhaul of the playing and coaching staff began, dubbed "Diamond's Revolution".[13][14][15] Sale started the season well, but form faltered towards the latter half of the campaign, and Tony Hanks was fired as head coach after a defeat to Saracens.[16] At the close of the season, Sale beat Gloucester and Bath to sixth place in the Premiership, meaning that they qualified for Heineken Cup in the 2012–13 season.

During the summer of 2012, Sale moved from Edgeley Park, their home since 2003, to the newly constructed Salford City Stadium (now renamed AJ Bell Stadium), to share with the Salford City Reds.

Sale had a disappointing 2012–13 season at their new stadium, spending most of the season in the relegation place before finishing 10th overall. Mark Cueto over took former Sale team-mate Steve Hanley, as top try scorer in the premiership, with his 76th try.[17] Their first win of the season was against Cardiff Blues in the Heineken Cup,[18] which was their only win in that year's Heineken Cup, where they finished bottom of their pool.[19][20] In the LV Cup in the knock-out stages, they beat Saracens in the semi final, but lost in the final to Harlequins 14–31.


This season showed a huge improvement from the season before. Sale finished the season in sixth place, missing out on a place on the play-off competition, but managed to secure qualification to the inaugural European Rugby Champions Cup. They also managed to reach the quarter finals of the European Challenge Cup, where they lost to Northampton Saints.[21] Sale's successes in the season prompted England national team head coach Stuart Lancaster to call up six Sale players in to the squad to play in the summer tour.[22][23]

For the 2014–15 season, the Sharks finished in seventh in the Aviva Premiership, while they finished bottom of their pool in the European Rugby Champions Cup, having pushed Munster, Saracens & Clermont Auvergne all the way at the AJ Bell Stadium. The standout players for this campaign were academy prospects Mike Haley and Josh Beaumont who became first team regulars, and Josh was called up for the England squad for the England XV which played the Barbarians in May, and scored a try.

Current squad

2016-17 Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.

Player Position Union
Neil Briggs Hooker England England
Cameron Neild Hooker England England
Rob Webber Hooker England England
Halani Aulika Prop Tonga Tonga
James Flynn Prop England England
Ross Harrison Prop England England
Eifion Lewis-Roberts Prop Wales Wales
Kieran Longbottom Prop Australia Australia
Brian Mujati Prop South Africa South Africa
Ciaran Parker Prop England England
Bryn Evans Lock New Zealand New Zealand
Jonathan Mills Lock Wales Wales
George Nott Lock England England
Andrei Ostrikov Lock Russia Russia
Lou Reed Lock Wales Wales
Andy Hughes Flanker England England
TJ Ioane Flanker Samoa Samoa
Magnus Lund Flanker England England
David Seymour Flanker England England
Josh Beaumont Number 8 England England
Laurence Pearce Number 8 England England
Player Position Union
James Mitchell Scrum-half England England
Mike Phillips Scrum-half Wales Wales
Peter Stringer Scrum-half Ireland Ireland
AJ MacGinty Fly-half United States United States
Tom Morton Fly-half England England
Dan Mugford Fly-half England England
Will Addison Centre England England
Sam James Centre England England
Mark Jennings Centre England England
Johnny Leota Centre Samoa Samoa
Sam Tuitupou Centre New Zealand New Zealand
Tom Arscott Wing England England
Josh Charnley Wing England England
Nev Edwards Wing England England
Charlie Ingall Wing England England
Paolo Odogwu Wing England England
Mike Haley Fullback England England
Tim Jeffers Fullback England England
Byron McGuigan Fullback Scotland Scotland

Academy squad

Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.

Player Position Union
Curtis Langdon Hooker England England
Diogo Ferreira Prop Portugal Portugal
Jake Pope Prop England England
Matt Postlethwaite Lock England England
Ben Curry Flanker England England
Tom Curry Flanker England England
Matt Rogerson Number 8 England England
Player Position Union
Connor Dever Scrum-half England England
Sam Bedlow Centre England England

Notable former players

Other countries

Club honours

  • Champions: 2006
  • Champions: 2002, 2005
  • Champions: 1936
  • Davenport Plate Champions: 1968, 1985
  • Main Event Champions: 1978
  • Champions: 2003


Sale Sharks signed a three-year deal with Manchester business UKFast, the value of the deal being in excess of £2 million.[24] UKFast started sponsoring the club in 1999, at the same time they changed their name from Sale to Sale Sharks. Lawrence Jones, a keen supporter of Sale and managing director of UKFast, announced a sponsorship deal in March 2009 which ended previous sponsor McAfee's four-year association with the club.

In April 2011, Jones decided to end UKFast's deal with Sale, explaining that the decision was taken partly for business reasons, but also due to changes at the club – including Charlie Hodgson's departure at the end of the 2010–11 season.[25]

In July 2011, the club announced that credit card lender MBNA would become the club's Principal Partner for the next three seasons, and that the partnership would see the MBNA logo on the front of all three of Sales Sharks' home, away and European shirts.[26]

In July 2016, UKFast became club sponsors again.

Current kit

The kit is supplied by Samurai Rugby Gear. On the front of the shirt, MBNA appears at the centre and the far top left and the far top right. On the back of the shirt, Spinningfields appear at the top while USN appears on top of the squad number while Prestige appears at the bottom. On the back of the shorts, MBNA (who also appear on the centre, the far top left and the far top right of the front of the shirt) appears at the top while Capital propher+ies appears on the bottom left.


  1. Premiership Rugby club info – Sale
  2. "Salford City Stadium renamed as AJ Bell Stadium". 13 September 2013. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
  3. Sale FC Rugby Club. "Our history". Sale FC. Retrieved 22 September 2015.
  4. W. W. Wakefield, H. P. Marshall, Rugger – The History, Theory and Practice of Rugby Football, 1928, page 361
  5. Despite playing for the British team, Isherwood was never selected for England.
  6. "Sale Sharks make triple signing". BBC News. 3 May 2005.
  7. 1 2 (Source: Sale sharks website)
  8. Cleary, Mick (3 March 2009). "Sale head coach Jason Robinson not deterred by Martin Johnson's England woes". The Telegraph. London.
  9. "Jones proud despite missing play-offs". Premiership Rugby. 25 April 2009.
  10. "Robinson named as Sale head coach". BBC News. 25 February 2009.
  11. 1 2 "Jason Robinson confirms he will leave Sale Sharks at the end of the season". The Telegraph. London. 28 April 2010.
  12. 1 2 "Mike Brewer replaces Jason Robinson as Sale head coach". BBC News. 28 April 2010.
  13. "Andy Powell joins the Sale Sharks revolution". Guardian. London. 11 May 2011.
  14. "Sale Sharks sign Ireland prop Tony Buckley". Daily Telegraph. London. 16 February 2011.
  15. "Sale sign ex-Wasps boss Hanks". Planet Rugby. London. 13 July 2011.
  16. "Tony Hanks sacked by Sale Sharks". Daily Mail. London. 24 March 2012.
  17. Elliott, Andrew (2013-02-09). "Mark Cueto becomes Premiership's top try-scorer | Rugby Union | Sport | Daily Express". Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  18. "Match Centre | Rugby | Sale Sharks | Official Site : Sale Sharks 34 - Cardiff Blues 33". Sale Sharks. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  19. "Pool 1 : Heineken Cup". Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  20. "Match Centre | Rugby | Sale Sharks | Official Site : Toulon 62 - Sale Sharks 0". Sale Sharks. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  21. "Match Centre | Rugby | Sale Sharks | Official Site : Sale Sharks 14 Northampton Saints 28". Sale Sharks. 2014-04-03. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  22. Swanton, Dave. "News | Sale Sharks | Official Site : Four Sharks Players In The England Training Squad". Sale Sharks. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  23. Hill, Melanie. "News | Sale Sharks | Official Site : Ross Harrison and James Gaskell Called To England Training". Sale Sharks. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  24. "Sale enjoy life in the UKFast lane". Manchester Evening News.
  25. "UKFast ends marketing deal with Sale Sharks". 18 April 2011.
  26. "MBNA announced as Sale Sharks Principal Partner". Now Rugby. 1 July 2011.

External links

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