Sale Sharks

Sale Sharks is a professional rugby union club from Greater Manchester, England. They play in the Premiership Rugby, England's top division of rugby.

Sale Sharks
Sale Sharks logo.svg
Full nameSale Rugby Union Football Club
UnionCheshire RFU
Founded1861; 159 years ago (1861)
LocationBarton-upon-Irwell, Salford, England
Ground(s)AJ Bell Stadium (Capacity: 12,000[1])
ChairmanFran Cotton
CEOJon Dorsett
Director of RugbySteve Diamond
Captain(s)Jono Ross
League(s)English Premiership
1st kit
2nd kit
Official website

Originally founded in 1861 as Sale Football Club, now a distinct amateur club, they adopted the nickname Sharks in 1999. Since 2012 they have played their home games at the A.J. Bell Stadium in Barton-upon-Irwell, Eccles. Between 1905 and 2003 they played at Heywood Road in Sale, before moving to Edgeley Park in Stockport where they stayed until 2012. Their traditional colours are blue and white.

Sale have won three major trophies. They were English Champions in 2006 and won the European Rugby Challenge Cup in 2002 and 2005. They also won the second division in 1994.

In the 2018-19 Premiership Rugby season Sale finished 7th, this entitled them to compete in the 2019-20 European Rugby Champions Cup. The current Director of Rugby is Steve Diamond who was appointed in 2012.



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.[2]

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,[3] when he played in all three tests of the 1910 British tour to South Africa at scrum-half.[4] 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 eraEdit

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 uncompromising 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: ChampionsEdit

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.[5] 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 against London Wasps, they won 22–12. They won the 2006 Premiership title with a 45–20 win against Leicester Tigers.[citation needed]


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.[6]

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.[6]

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,[citation needed] 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.[7][8]

2009–2013: Near relegationEdit

Sale Sharks and Oyonnax at Stade Charles-Mathon, 2013

For the 2009–10 season, Kingsley Jones was promoted from Head Coach to Director of Rugby; former Sale winger Jason Robinson became head coach.[9] 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.[10] Robinson, who originally had no intentions to coach but responded to the club's request for help,[10] left the club.[11] Former All Black forward Mike Brewer replaced Robinson as head coach, while Jones remained as Director of Rugby.[11] 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".[12][13][14] 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.[15] 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 teammate Steve Hanley, as top try scorer in the premiership, with his 76th try.[16] Their first win of the season was against Cardiff Blues in the Heineken Cup,[17] which was their only win in that year's Heineken Cup, where they finished bottom of their pool.[18][19] 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.[20] 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.[21][22]

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 kitEdit

The kit is supplied by Samurai Rugby Gear. On the front of the shirt, UKFast appears at the centre and the far top left and the far top right. On the back of the shirt, Together 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, UKFast (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.

Season summariesEdit

Premiership Domestic Cup Domestic Trophy European Cup
Season Competition Final Position Points Play-Offs Competition Performance Competition Performance Competition Performance
1987–88 Courage League Division 1 12th (R) 11 N/A John Player Cup Quarter-final No competition N/A No competition N/A
1988–89 Courage League Division 2 4th 12 N/A Pilkington Cup 2nd round No competition N/A No competition N/A
1989–90 Courage League Division 2 9th 8 N/A Pilkington Cup 4th round No competition N/A No competition N/A
1990–91 Courage League Division 2 7th 11 N/A Pilkington Cup 3rd round No competition N/A No competition N/A
1991–92 Courage League Division 2 8th 10 N/A Pilkington Cup 4th round No competition N/A No competition N/A
1992–93 Courage League Division 2 5th 15 N/A Pilkington Cup 3rd round No competition N/A No competition N/A
1993–94 Courage League Division 2 1st (P) 28 N/A Pilkington Cup Quarter-final No competition N/A No competition N/A
1994–95 Courage League Division 1 4th 16 N/A Pilkington Cup Quarter-final No competition N/A No competition N/A
1995–96 Courage League Division 1 5th 19 N/A Pilkington Cup 4th round No competition N/A No English teams N/A
1996–97 Courage League Division 1 5th 28 N/A Pilkington Cup Runners-up No competition N/A Challenge Cup 3rd in pool
1997–98 Allied Dunbar Premiership 7th 22 N/A Tetley's Bitter Cup Semi-final C&G Cup Semi-final Challenge Cup 3rd in pool
1998–99 Allied Dunbar Premiership 11th 19 N/A Tetley's Bitter Cup 4th round C&G Cup Semi-final No English teams N/A
1999–00 Allied Dunbar Premiership 11th 18 N/A Tetley's Bitter Cup 5th round No competition N/A Challenge Cup 3rd in pool
2000–01 Zurich Premiership 10th 43 N/A Tetley's Bitter Cup Semi-final No competition N/A Challenge Cup 2nd in pool
2001–02 Zurich Premiership 2nd 69 N/A Powergen Cup 6th round Powergen Shield Not eligible Challenge Cup Champions
2002–03 Zurich Premiership 4th 62 - Powergen Cup 6th round Powergen Shield Not eligible Heineken Cup 4th in pool
2003–04 Zurich Premiership 7th 53 - Powergen Cup Runners-up Powergen Shield Not eligible Heineken Cup 4th in pool
2004–05 Zurich Premiership 3rd 60 Semi-final Powergen Cup Quarter-final Powergen Shield Not eligible Challenge Cup Champions
2005–06 Guinness Premiership 1st 74 Champions Powergen Cup 3rd in pool EDF Energy Trophy Not eligible Heineken Cup Quarter-final
2006–07 Guinness Premiership 10th 42 - EDF Energy Cup Semi-final EDF Energy Trophy Not eligible Heineken Cup 3rd in pool
2007–08 Guinness Premiership 5th 63 - EDF Energy Cup 4th in pool EDF Energy Trophy Not eligible Challenge Cup Semi-final
2008–09 Guinness Premiership 5th 61 - EDF Energy Cup 4th in pool EDF Energy Trophy Not eligible Heineken Cup 2nd in pool
2009–10 Guinness Premiership 11th 32 - LV= Cup 3rd in pool British and Irish Cup Not eligible Heineken Cup 3rd in pool
2010–11 Aviva Premiership 10th 32 - LV= Cup 4th in pool British and Irish Cup Not eligible Challenge Cup 2nd in pool
2011–12 Aviva Premiership 6th 49 - LV= Cup 4th in pool British and Irish Cup Not eligible Challenge Cup 2nd in pool
2012–13 Aviva Premiership 10th 35 - LV= Cup Runners-up British and Irish Cup Not eligible Heineken Cup 4th in pool
2013–14 Aviva Premiership 6th 57 - LV= Cup 2nd in pool British and Irish Cup Not eligible Challenge Cup Quarter-final
2014–15 Aviva Premiership 7th 54 - LV= Cup 3rd in pool British and Irish Cup Not eligible Champions Cup 4th in pool
2015–16 Aviva Premiership 6th 58 - No competition N/A British and Irish Cup Not eligible Challenge Cup Quarter-final
2016–17 Aviva Premiership 10th 40 - Anglo-Welsh Cup 3rd in pool British and Irish Cup Not eligible Champions Cup 4th in pool
2017–18 Aviva Premiership 8th 54 - Anglo-Welsh Cup 3rd in pool British and Irish Cup Not eligible Challenge Cup 3rd in pool
2018–19 Gallagher Premiership 7th 55 - Premiership Cup 3rd in pool Championship Cup Not eligible Challenge Cup Semi-final

Gold background denotes champions
Silver background denotes runners-up
Pink background denotes relegated

Club honoursEdit

Sale SharksEdit

Sale Jets ReservesEdit


Current squadEdit

The Sale Sharks squad for the remainder of the 2019–20 season is:[25]

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
Cameron Neild Hooker   England
Akker van der Merwe Hooker   South Africa
Jake Cooper-Woolley Prop   England
Ross Harrison Prop   England
WillGriff John Prop   Wales
Valery Morozov Prop   Russia
Coenie Oosthuizen Prop   South Africa
Josh Beaumont Lock   England
Lood de Jager Lock   South Africa
James Phillips Lock   England
Matt Postlethwaite Lock   England
Ben Curry Back row   England
Tom Curry Back row   England
Dan du Preez Back row   South Africa
Jean-Luc du Preez Back row   South Africa
Jono Ross (c) Back row   South Africa
Cobus Wiese Back row   South Africa
Player Position Union
Will Cliff Scrum-half   England
Faf de Klerk Scrum-half   South Africa
Gus Warr Scrum-half   England
AJ MacGinty Fly-half   United States
Robert du Preez Fly-half   South Africa
Kieran Wilkinson Fly-half   England
Sam Hill Centre   England
Sam James Centre   England
Luke James Centre   England
Rohan Janse van Rensburg Centre   South Africa
Manu Tuilagi Centre   England
Byron McGuigan Wing   Scotland
Arron Reed Wing   England
Denny Solomona Wing   England
Marland Yarde Wing   England
Simon Hammersley Fullback   England

Academy squadEdit

The Sale Sharks academy squad is:[26]

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
Ewan Ashman Hooker   Scotland
Ben Carlile Prop   England
Cal Ford Prop   England
James Harper Prop   England
Bevan Rodd Prop   England
Player Position Union
Raffi Quirke Scrum-half   England
Tom Curtis Fly-half   England
Connor Doherty Centre   England
Tom Roebuck Wing   England
Joe Carpenter Fullback   England

Notable former playersEdit

Other countries


Sale Sharks signed a three-year deal with Manchester business UKFast, the value of the deal being in excess of £2 million.[27] 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.[28]

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.[29]

In July 2016, UKFast became club sponsors again.


  1. ^ AJ Bell Stadium Retrieved 3 June 2019. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ Sale FC Rugby Club. "Our history". Sale FC. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 22 September 2015.
  3. ^ W. W. Wakefield, H. P. Marshall, Rugger – The History, Theory and Practice of Rugby Football, 1928, page 361
  4. ^ Despite playing for the British team, Isherwood was never selected for England.
  5. ^ "Sale Sharks make triple signing". BBC News. 3 May 2005.
  6. ^ a b (Source: Sale sharks website)
  7. ^ Cleary, Mick (3 March 2009). "Sale head coach Jason Robinson not deterred by Martin Johnson's England woes". The Telegraph. London.
  8. ^ "Jones proud despite missing play-offs". Premiership Rugby. 25 April 2009.
  9. ^ "Robinson named as Sale head coach". BBC News. 25 February 2009.
  10. ^ a b "Jason Robinson confirms he will leave Sale Sharks at the end of the season". The Telegraph. London. 28 April 2010.
  11. ^ a b "Mike Brewer replaces Jason Robinson as Sale head coach". BBC News. 28 April 2010.
  12. ^ "Andy Powell joins the Sale Sharks revolution". Guardian. London. 11 May 2011.
  13. ^ "Sale Sharks sign Ireland prop Tony Buckley". Daily Telegraph. London. 16 February 2011.
  14. ^ "Sale sign ex-Wasps boss Hanks". Planet Rugby. London. 13 July 2011.
  15. ^ "Sale Sharks sack head coach Tony Hanks". Manchester Evening News. 24 March 2012.
  16. ^ Elliott, Andrew (9 February 2013). "Mark Cueto becomes Premiership's top try-scorer | Rugby Union | Sport | Daily Express". Retrieved 5 June 2014.
  17. ^ "Match Centre | Rugby | Sale Sharks | Official Site : Sale Sharks 34 - Cardiff Blues 33". Sale Sharks. Retrieved 5 June 2014.
  18. ^ "Pool 1 : Heineken Cup". Retrieved 5 June 2014.
  19. ^ "Match Centre | Rugby | Sale Sharks | Official Site : Toulon 62 - Sale Sharks 0". Sale Sharks. Retrieved 5 June 2014.
  20. ^ "Match Centre | Rugby | Sale Sharks | Official Site : Sale Sharks 14 Northampton Saints 28". Sale Sharks. 3 April 2014. Retrieved 5 June 2014.
  21. ^ Swanton, Dave. "News | Sale Sharks | Official Site : Four Sharks Players In The England Training Squad". Sale Sharks. Retrieved 5 June 2014.
  22. ^ Hill, Melanie. "News | Sale Sharks | Official Site : Ross Harrison and James Gaskell Called To England Training". Sale Sharks. Retrieved 5 June 2014.
  23. ^ "Melrose Sevens". 7 June 2019.
  24. ^ "Cartha / Glasgow City Sevens". 7 June 2019.
  25. ^ "Sale Sharks 2019/20 Season - Squad Confirmation". Sale Sharks. 7 July 2020. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  26. ^ "Jets". Sale Sharks. Retrieved 3 November 2019.
  27. ^ "Sale enjoy life in the UKFast lane". Manchester Evening News.
  28. ^ "UKFast ends marketing deal with Sale Sharks". 18 April 2011. Archived from the original on 20 April 2011.
  29. ^ "MBNA announced as Sale Sharks Principal Partner". Now Rugby. 1 July 2011.

External linksEdit