Sale Sharks director of rugby Steve Diamond was not happy following his side’s 22-20 loss to the Exeter Chiefs yesterday and didn’t hold back in his post-match press conference.
Diamond was clearly unhappy with referee Mathieu Raynal and his team of officials, citing in particular their decisions not to award penalty tries that he felt were a certainty.
“Our driving maul is good. I’ve got to be very careful how I say it, but how we can turn the corner from a driving line-out nine metres out and a guy comes in and tackles it and it’s not a yellow card, penalty try, I don’t know. I just said, ‘Good game’. I said, ‘You’ve had a fantastic game, your touch judges had a brilliant game’. Hopefully that’ll go through to their assessors – and we’ll never see the b******s again in Manchester. Joke! Joke, joke, joke. I just get this feeling these days people want more character in the room, not just yes and no questions, so we’re only having a bit of fun,” he said.
Although he seems to think his comments are just a bit of fun it remains to be seen how well received they are by the EPCR, who will probably be far from amused.
The former hooker is no stranger to post-match controversy having accused a referee of making up decisions before, as well as pushing opposition staff members and getting into an argument with a journalist last year.
Sale’s loss leaves them third in Pool 2 of the Champions Cup and looking likely to fail to progress to the knock-out stages.
However, there has been talk of a boost coming to the club in the form of recently sacked Racing 92 star Leone Nakarawa, who is reportedly being targeted by the side, but Diamond all but put that possibility to bed, while also making a bizarre claim ahead of next weekend’s reverse fixture against the Chiefs.
“I might just send my kids down, I don’t know yet. That’s what other teams are doing, aren’t they? I might just send my Under-19s down and let Exeter go through. We’ll have a think. We’ll put it to bed, the Fijian lad won’t come to England because the weather’s too cold – it’s not money,” he added.
So, by those remarks it seems as though Nakarawa won’t be joining the Sharks any time soon and that Diamond may chance playing an understrength side next weekend.
However, the latter appears unlikely as Sale still have a chance of progressing as they are only two-points off second-placed Glasgow, but at this stage who knows what Diamond will decide to do? What’s certain is that he may have just opened a can of worms for himself with the EPCR.
Sio poised for Exeter debut
Australia prop Scott Sio is set to start for his Exeter Chiefs debut as the 2020 Heineken Champions Cup winners visit Gloucester Rugby in the Gallagher Premiership on Friday night.
The 31-year-old, who could get his first taste of EPCR competition when Exeter travel to Castres Olympique in their Heineken Champions Cup Pool A opener on December 10, comes in as one of five changes to the side that started last Saturday’s 22-20 defeat to Saracens.
Captain Jack Yeandle comes in at hooker, with flanker Lewis Pearson the other change in the pack, while fit-again wing Josh Hodge is handed a start along with centre Rory O’Loughlin.
Gloucester, who welcome Union Bordeaux-Bègles in their first Heineken Champions Cup Pool A fixture, also on December 10, have made four alterations to the starting XV for their 22-21 win at London Irish a week ago.
🚨 FIXTURE DETAILS 🚨
Get those diaries out, start booking 🗓
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) October 7, 2022
Prop Harry Elrington and lock Cam Jordan are brought in, with Ben Morgan starting at No.8 as Ruan Ackermann shifts to blindside flanker. Lloyd Evans is also called up at full-back, with Santiago Carreras switching to the wing.
Leinster Rugby are the other Heineken Champions Cup side in action on Friday as they make the trip to Scarlets in the United Rugby Championship.
The Irish province are much-changed from their 27-13 victory over Munster Rugby last Saturday, with flanker Scott Penny the only player to retain his place.
Centre Charlie Ngatai, fly-half Ross Byrne, prop Ed Byrne and lock Ross Molony are all involved for last season’s Heineken Champions Cup runners-up, while Tadgh McElroy, Charlie Tector and Ben Brownlee are all potential debutants from the bench.
Racing 92 v Leinster set for Le Havre
The EPCR have this morning confirmed the full 2022/23 Heineken Champions Cup pool stage fixture dates, kick-off times, venues and TV coverage, including the venue for the December clash between Leinster Rugby and Racing 92 in France.
EPCR had already confirmed this week that BT Sport, as well as RTÉ, ITV and S4C, have all agreed multi-year partnerships for the new broadcast cycle in Ireland and the UK.
BT Sport, who have been a partner since 2015, have recommitted as lead broadcaster in Ireland and the UK until the conclusion of the 2023/24 season.
In addition, RTÉ, has come on board in Ireland to provide free-to-air coverage.
RTÉ has already confirmed that it will broadcast both Leinster Rugby home games in the pool stages of the 2022/23 Heineken Champions Cup on free-to-air on RTÉ2 television and on RTÉ Player.
The agreements with RTÉ and ITV, which will see each broadcaster cover one Heineken Champions Cup match per round in Ireland and in the UK – including the Final – on a free-to-air basis, also run until the end of the 2023/24 season.
Click HERE for the full 2022/23 Heineken Champions Cup pool stage fixtures.
Leinster Rugby will start their campaign on Saturday, 10 December against three-time finalists, Racing 92, in Pool A and that game will be broadcast on BT Sport. The game will be played at the 25,000-capacity Stade Océane in Le Havre.
On Friday, 16 December 2022, at 8pm, Leinster Rugby will host Gloucester Rugby at the RDS Arena for the Round 2, Pool A encounter (live on RTÉ TV).
After the Christmas break, on Saturday 14 January 2023, it’s the return leg, as Leinster visit Kingsholm Stadium to take on Gloucester with a 1pm kick-off (live on ITV).
On the following Saturday, the final game of the pool stages sees Leinster welcome Racing 92 to Aviva Stadium with a 3.15pm start (live on RTÉ).
Ticketing information will be emailed to season ticket holders in the first instance with public sale thereafter.
2022/23 key dates
Round 1 – 9/10/11 December 2022
Round 2 – 16/17/18 December 2022
Round 3 – 13/14/15 January 2023
Round 4 – 20/21/22 January 2023
Round of 16 – 31 March – 1/2 April 2023
Quarter-finals – 7/8/9 April 2023
Semi-finals – 28/29/30 April 2023
EPCR Challenge Cup final – Friday 19 May 2023; Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Heineken Champions Cup final – Saturday 20 May 2023; Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Images & Content from Leinster Rugby
RTÉ To Broadcast Munster Home Champions Cup Fixtures
RTÉ have today confirmed fixture details for both of Munster’s home Heineken Champions Cup Pool fixtures against Toulouse and Northampton Saints.
See home fixture details below with details yet to be confirmed for our away games.
Ticket details will be released shortly.
Heineken Champions Cup Fixtures
Sunday, December 11, 2022
Round 1: Munster Rugby v Stade Toulousain, Thomond Park, 3.15pm;
December 16/17/18, 2023
Round 2: Northampton Saints v Munster Rugby, TBC;
Saturday, January 14, 2023
Round 3: Munster Rugby v Northampton Saints, Thomond Park, 3.15pm;
January 20/21/22, 2023
Round 4: Stade Toulousain v Munster Rugby, TBC;
Images & Content from Munster Rugby
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