Director of Rugby Steve Diamond spoke to the media today ahead of Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership match against Newcastle Falcons at Sixways (3pm).
Here’s what Steve had to say:
Is the club in administration?
I can’t confirm that, no. I have heard the same rumours.
Whether it’s convenience or good timing or poor timing, the public liability insurances for the club are up on Monday so we are in limbo from then anyhow.
If there’s no public liability insurance we won’t be able to train at the stadium. We will have to train off-site.
Something will have to happen either the said investor who is negotiating or administration.
What did you make of Robin Walker MP’s speech?
I thought it was an excellent debate – it’s the first time my name has been mentioned in Parliament by the way.
He was very passionate and it was what people want to see and hear, some facts and some honesty.
We have been in this period of near-purgatory for some time now and it seems to be coming to a head with us potentially being suspended on Monday.
Have you heard from the owners?
I had a text on Sunday but that has been it.
Because I have not had any dialogue with them I can’t speak for them. But it would be bizarre to let a business go into real uncharted waters by having a team suspended because they can’t pay the insurance cover in case people slip in the stands. It would also be unprofessional.
I don’t know how we have got this position. It’s sad and it’s diabolical that it’s been allowed to walk itself to the graveyard virtually. I never thought it would get to this position, but it has.
The rugby for the players and the staff – most of them are volunteering now – is a welcome relief.
The result is unimportant to me. Just getting 23 lads out to give it their best shot is all I’m interested in.
If people had the same mindset behind the scenes that I have then we wouldn’t be in the situation we are in now.
Have you ever though it’s not worth it?
No, not even today. If the right people come in with the right vision then it will be a success.
It’s been run poorly, incredibly badly, and it needs re-booting. At least I have had six months to work out how badly it has been run.
With a fair wind behind us and some serious finance in reserve – not to use on celebrity names in the playing staff – just to reboot the club from Academy to the top. You wouldn’t need to be Warren Buffet to do that.
We need to build relationships with the rugby club across the road where there is no relationship – which I find ridiculous.
The local community have shown what they are about in bucketloads. I’ve had personal messages from sponsors, potential sponsors and potential investors. Everyone wants it to work and that’s where I get my enthusiasm from.
What are your over-riding emotions?
I don’t feel let-down. I have had the foresight to see that, for whatever reason, there has been no financial control and no real graft in the business.
Every rugby club had to take emergency steps through the Covid period with DCMS and HMRC allowing payment windows.
But you have to stay on-side with these people. Generally that comes from being a good communicator and as we have seen over the past month that has been very poor.
If it’s very poor with people who give blood for them on a Saturday afternoon then you can only imagine it being a lot worse to people at the end of a phone.
How are the players mentally?
They are remarkably good. We had a good chat again this morning and the over-riding mentality is that we want to play the game.
For the right reasons. We are in the political window but I don’t want the team to be in that position. I can handle that position.
It does put pressure on by us playing because the staff are working for nothing, the volunteers have been fantastic and we get so much goodwill that if we don’t play the attention will come onto the team and that’s not what we are about.
But if the deadline is not met by the powers-that-be on Monday then we will be suspended.
How long might you be suspended for?
There are some assurances that it wouldn’t be fatal. But you can’t have a team not playing for five or six weeks and then put them back in again.
I am assuming if we are suspended and we do go into administration then it will be a two or three week process. We could be playing after the break when we have a bye week in two weeks’ time.
The disappointing thing is how this has kept going and meandered. I asked the RPA this morning whether they had jumped in now because the insurance is up on Monday.
We are playing with a lot of livelihoods and 70 per cent of those livelihoods haven’t been fully paid.
Ted Hill is nearly there with his hamstring but we don’t want to risk him.
Leicester Tigers head coach, Dan McKellar said: “The group, players and staff were on the go for 23 weeks straight so getting away from the game for a period was really beneficial and we’ve come back in enthused for this challenge this week.
“Ealing are a team full of experience and quality, so we’ll have to be at our best to get the result we want, on a big day for the likes of Hanro and Finn.
“It’s fitting that Hanro leads us on his 100th game. He carried a lot of the leadership burden during the World Cup and continues to be someone the boys can count on to lead with his actions.”
Scott MacLeod is returning to Newcastle Falcons as line-out coach, with the former Scotland lock on board until at least the end of the season.
The Hawick native spent 11 years with the Falcons, making 61 appearances as a player before joining the coaching team in 2016.
Having departed Kingston Park last summer MacLeod will now return to impart his expertise, combining coaching commitments with working for his family’s business in the Scottish Borders.
Newcastle Falcons’ consultant director of rugby Steve Diamond said: “Scott is a well-respected line-out specialist who can help us make some big gains in that area between now and the end of the season.
“He knows and loves the club, he’s very well regarded here and I’m looking forward to getting him back involved.
“We’ve initially said it’s until the end of the season and I know Scott has other business commitments, but if it works well for both parties over the next few months then we’ll be happy to look at extending it beyond that.”
Capped 24 times by Scotland in a playing career which also saw him starring for Border Reivers, Edinburgh, Scarlets, Kobelco Steelers and Newcastle, the set-piece specialist is relishing the prospect of reinvigorating the Falcons’ line-out during the remainder of the season.
MacLeod said: “Our line-out has consistently been in the top four of the Premiership over the past few years, so hopefully I can come in and help get us back up there.
“I’ve been watching the games from afar this season because Newcastle Falcons is still a big part of my life, even though I’ve not been personally involved since the summer. I just want to come in and make a positive difference, get us back to where we should be and help the boys.”
Having spent more than a decade at Kingston Park as a player and coach, MacLeod insisted the opportunity to return was just too good to pass up.
“I’ve missed the place a lot,” said the 44-year-old.
“I’m now working for my family’s business, MacLeod Glass, up in Hawick, but I’m sure any sportsperson will tell you they miss being in and around that team environment. It’s certainly very different going from a Premiership rugby club to working in a factory every day, and it’s been a shock to the system.
“I’ll now get to combine both, and I’ve missed being involved with the professional game. I’ve been coaching my son’s S2 side to get my rugby fix, but I’m buzzing to be back with the Falcons. It’s a really special club for me.”
Setting out with one clear aim, the Scot said: “I just want us to get our identity back.
“I’ll come in, assess our strengths and our weaknesses and come up with a plan accordingly. I know some of the players really well and I don’t know others at all, but luckily with us having this big break before our next game it’s absolutely ideal timing for getting things in place.
“One thing you have to bear in mind with Newcastle is how bad the weather is, in terms of how much you can push it in the line-out, but I just want to get the confidence back into the boys.
“It’s about simple things being done well on a consistent basis, and I’m starting this week to help put it in motion.
“I’ve got a few weeks to get to know the guys I’ve not worked with before, see how it all ties in with the lads I already know and then knit it all together into a game plan which works best for the team.
“As I say, I just want us to have that Newcastle Falcons identity again when it comes to the line-out, and I’m really positive about things. We’ll see how it works between now and the end of the season, and if everyone’s happy then we can see where it goes.”
Newcastle Falcons’ next home game is against Leicester Tigers on Good Friday (March 29), with tickets on sale for the 7.45pm kick-off by clicking here.
Sharks scrum-half Gus Warr has committed his long-term future to the club by signing a new deal keeping him at the Salford Stadium until the end of the 2026/27 season.
The 24-year-old has played more than 70 first team games for the club since making his debut against Harlequins at the Stoop in September, 2018.
Gus, who has represented both Scotland and England at age grade level, played his junior rugby at Winnington Park RFC and Bowdon RFC before joining the Sharks Academy at the age of 14.
The 5’8” half-back joined Doncaster Knights on loan at the end of the 2019/20 season, and then re-joined again on a dual-registry deal ahead of the 2021/22.
Injuries led to his early return and he took his chance, quickly becoming a Sharks regular and featuring in the Premiership final at the end of the 2022/23 season.
Sharks Director of Rugby Alex Sanderson said: “Gus surprises me on a daily basis. I don’t know if he always loves me but I love him. Gus isn’t as physical as some other players in his position, but there is no-one who can match him for sheer grit, effort and determination.
“I don’t think he’s ever better than when he’s challenged or labelled ‘just alright’. He’s so much more than that and we’re so lucky to have him.
“His character epitomises what we’re all about here – he’s hard-working, resilient, robust and northern and that’s everything we strive to be as a club and as a team.
“Gus is still only young so there’s so much more to come from him. Everyone is buzzing that he wants to stay here.”
Gus said: “Playing for Sale Sharks has been my ambition since I was very young and now to get to play in front of an amazing crowd every week, with some of my best mates, is a dream come true.
“We’ve got so many young, hungry players and this is a really exciting time to push on and build on what was started last year and show that Northern rugby really matters.”