After a 17-year association with Saracens, Saracens can today confirm Alex Sanderson will depart to take up the position as Sale Sharks Director of Rugby.
The 41-year-old joined Sarries from Sale as a player in 2004 and has made an instrumental impact since becoming part of the coaching team in the 2008/09 season.
Amongst many contributions on and off the training field, he has transformed the Men in Black’s defence into a formidable force and leaves behind the Wolfpack mentality which will forever be instilled at Saracens.
Sanderson heads back to the North West to take on the challenge of the first lead role of his coaching career, having played over 100 times for Sale between 1998 and 2004.
With the move, Sanderson becomes the latest of a long line of former Saracens coaches and players who have gone on to coach in lead jobs at top-flight clubs and at international level, something the club is extremely proud of given its huge emphasis on the strength and development of its coaching and support team.
“Alex has an enormous heart and huge character. He will always be a dear friend of the club,” said Saracens CEO Lucy Wray.
“I know this was a tough decision for Alex, but we completely understand his desire to take on a new challenge and take the next step in his coaching career. As we do with our players, we want to continue to nurture our coaches and promote from within. Thank you, Alex, for everything you have given to Saracens, both physically and emotionally. You and your family are always welcome back to StoneX Stadium.”
Saracens Director of Rugby Mark McCall said: “Few people have been as central to the Saracens story as Alex. His drive, ambition and personality are woven into the very fabric of the club.
“He is one of the leading Coaches of his generation, blending comprehensive technical and tactical knowledge with an in depth understanding of the people in his care. His creativity, ability to articulate message and ferocious desire to improve players, sets the standard of what it is to be a modern day coach.
“Away from the field, Alex is loved by everyone at the club. Honest, kind-hearted and generous, he is considered by many a dear friend. He is also a dedicated family man and we wish him, Emma, and Ty every success in the future. Thank you, Alex, for all you have done for our club.” ‘
Talking on behalf of the current playing squad, Jamie George said: “It is nearly impossible to quantify the impact Al has had on every member of the playing squad at Saracens. He comes into work every day with a desire and passion to make the group the best they possibly can be.
“Where Al is different to others is the strong connection he has with the entire squad, he has taken a genuine interest in every player on and off the field and of course will be remembered for his weird and whacky ways of getting messages across to the group. On behalf of the playing squad, I would like to thank Al for showing us what it takes to be the best and wish him, Emma and Ty the very best in their move back to Manchester.”
Saracens owner Nigel Wray added: “All my family will miss you Alex, and indeed will miss all your family, Emma, Ty, your Mum and Dad… but we will always be friends. We will always be close friends. Thanks for those many years and the very best wishes for the future”.
A fantastic coach and, more importantly, a fantastic human, everyone at Saracens would like to thank Alex for everything he has done for the club over a prolonged period and wish him every bit of success in his new venture.
Sanderson penned the below letter to the Saracens family:
It’s with a heavy heart after a month of introspection and consideration I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you and farewell to my Saracens Family members.
To say ‘I love’ the organisation, the supporters, and my friends within it that make it so special would be an understatement. Saracens has been my life, and in many ways has shaped my life so indelibly that wherever I go from now on, a part of me will forever be a Saracen.
There are many accolades that we have achieved over the years, and belting nights out to boot, though ironically, it’s been on the occasions that we have had to steel ourselves, players and fans alike, and bond tighter together through all the hardships that I am most proud of.
To my peers…
First Brendan Venter then Mark McCall, have been mentors that have shown me the way, supported me, and given me the space to grow into the coach and person that my own father is proud of today. Most importantly they’ve been my friends and will forever remain so.
As for the rest of them, that being Shawsy, Peely, Kev, DV, Phil, Powelly, Jonesy and Slinger we have been lucky enough to have liked, known and worked together for a combined period of 125 years! A feat deserving a spot in the Guiness book of records – failing that, at the very least, a sure sign that it’s the strength of long-lasting relationships that truncate the core of all that is special about the club.
To such end, it would be remiss of me not to mention the massive contribution of the rest of the team behind the team, the S+C staff, Laura and her medical team, George, Warrick, Amelia and Nate. Thank you.
To the players…
Those legends who have moved on and those that remain, some of whom I’ve known since they were kids, seen them grow into impressive strong adults and on to become husbands and fathers – it’s difficult to express my appreciation for the trust, friendship and effort you have shown over the years.
Through our experiences together I am now rarely surprised, but always inspired on every occasion that you have been weighed and measured but never found wanting…
To Dominic Silvester…
A true-blue legend, a man of seemingly endless generosity, and another person who I consider a friend for life, thank you for your council and rock like support.
And finally, to the Wray family…
‘Thank you’ said in as many ways – as many times as I can muster doesn’t begin to cut it. I still have the letter that Nigel wrote to me welcoming me to the club 17 years ago.
It was Nigel who invested in me first as a player, then as a coach – Nigel who gave me the opportunity to make something out of myself and so it is with all sincerity when I say I will be forever grateful for all that you have done, and Lucy continues to do.
Long live the Wolfpack,
In other news, Saracens have announced their team to face Ealing Trailfinders
Saracens begin their Trailfinders Challenge Cup campaign on the road at Ealing Trailfinders with seven full internationals in the starting XV.
England Number 8 Billy Vunipola features in the back row alongside Namibian Janco Venter while Fiji’s Eroni Mawi and Springbok World Cup winner Vincent Koch start at loosehead and tighthead prop respectively.
After kicking seven from seven in his last outing, Will Hooley of USA partners Welshman Aled Davies at half-back while Scotland centre Duncan Taylor is in the midfield.
Hooker Tom Woolstencroft will captain the side and leads a pack which contains three Academy products in Jon Kpoku, Ollie Stonham and Andy Christie.
Academy graduates Rotimi Segun, Dom Morris and Elliott Obatoyinbo are selected alongside Sevens star Ben Harris who completes an exciting backline.
Former Ealing man Harry Sloan is among the replacements as is lock Llewelyn Jones who has joined Saracens on a two-week loan from Ampthill.
Saracens team to take on Ealing Trailfinders:
15 Elliott Obatoyinbo
14 Ben Harris
13 Dom Morris
12 Duncan Taylor
11 Rotimi Segun
10 Will Hooley
9 Aled Davies
1 Eroni Mawi
2 Tom Woolstencroft ©
3 Vincent Koch
4 Jon Kpoku
5 Ollie Stonham
6 Janco Venter
7 Andy Christie
8 Billy Vunipola
16 Kapeli Pifeleti
17 Sam Crean
18 Josh Ibuanokpe
19 Llewelyn Jones
20 Callum Hunter-Hill
21 Tom Whiteley
22 Harry Sloan
23 Charlie Watson
Tom Wood to captain Barbarians for showdown with Saints
Northampton Saints legend Tom Wood will lead out Barbarian F.C. at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens for tomorrow afternoon’s clash between the two sides.The world-famous invitational side will lock horns with the men in Black, Green and Gold for the first time in history on Saturday (kick-off: 3pm), and with Saints close to full strength for the exhibition match, the BaaBaas have selected a side packed with star quality to run out in Northampton.Wood captains the team and lines up in the No.8 jersey alongside Cardiff Rugby flanker Olly Robinson and former Wasps back row Ben Morris.Elliott Stooke and Graham Kitchener – formerly of Wasps and Worcester Warriors respectively – are selected in the engine room, with an explosive front row including Scotland international Murray McCallum, All Black Hika Elliot, and Stormers tighthead Brok Harris.Former England international Danny Cipriani starts at fly-half, with Gareth Simpson in the No.9 jersey and Wales international Owen Williams filling a second playmaker role at inside centre.Outside the former Worcester player in midfield is another Saints legend in Luther Burrell, who runs out at the Gardens berth for one final appearance in the UK before making the switch to Japan.And the Barbarians’ back-three is full of pace and power with England’s Marland Yarde and Zach Kibirige set to start on the wings, with Wales international Jonah Holmes completing the line-up at fullback.A limited number of tickets remain for the fixture, starting from £22 adult / £8 junior*. PLEASE CLICK HERE to purchase now.BARBARIAN F.C. SIDE TO FACE NORTHAMPTON SAINTSSaturday 26 November 2022cinch Stadium at Franklin’s GardensKick-off: 3pm15 Jonah Holmes14 Zach Kibirige13 Luther Burrell12 Owen Williams11 Marland Yarde10 Danny Cipriani9 Gareth Simpson1 Murray McCallum2 Hika Elliot3 Brok Harris4 Graham Kitchener5 Elliott Stooke6 Ben Morris7 Olly Robinson8 Tom Wood (c)Replacements:16 Tevita Ikanivere17 Ben Harris18 Elliot Millar-Mills19 Lloyd Ashley20 Will Boyde21 Francois Hougaard22 Mali Hingano23 Perry Humphreys
Northampton Saints legend Tom Wood will lead out Barbarian F.C. at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens for tomorrow afternoon’s clash between the two sides.
The world-famous invitational side will lock horns with the men in Black, Green and Gold for the first time in history on Saturday (kick-off: 3pm), and with Saints close to full strength for the exhibition match, the BaaBaas have selected a side packed with star quality to run out in Northampton.
Wood captains the team and lines up in the No.8 jersey alongside Cardiff Rugby flanker Olly Robinson and former Wasps back row Ben Morris.
Elliott Stooke and Graham Kitchener – formerly of Wasps and Worcester Warriors respectively – are selected in the engine room, with an explosive front row including Scotland international Murray McCallum, All Black Hika Elliot, and Stormers tighthead Brok Harris.
Former England international Danny Cipriani starts at fly-half, with Gareth Simpson in the No.9 jersey and Wales international Owen Williams filling a second playmaker role at inside centre.
Outside the former Worcester player in midfield is another Saints legend in Luther Burrell, who runs out at the Gardens berth for one final appearance in the UK before making the switch to Japan.
And the Barbarians’ back-three is full of pace and power with England’s Marland Yarde and Zach Kibirige set to start on the wings, with Wales international Jonah Holmes completing the line-up at fullback.
A limited number of tickets remain for the fixture, starting from £22 adult / £8 junior*. PLEASE CLICK HERE to purchase now.
BARBARIAN F.C. SIDE TO FACE NORTHAMPTON SAINTS
Saturday 26 November 2022
cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens
15 Jonah Holmes
14 Zach Kibirige
13 Luther Burrell
12 Owen Williams
11 Marland Yarde
10 Danny Cipriani
9 Gareth Simpson
1 Murray McCallum
2 Hika Elliot
3 Brok Harris
4 Graham Kitchener
5 Elliott Stooke
6 Ben Morris
7 Olly Robinson
8 Tom Wood (c)
16 Tevita Ikanivere
17 Ben Harris
18 Elliot Millar-Mills
19 Lloyd Ashley
20 Will Boyde
21 Francois Hougaard
22 Mali Hingano
23 Perry Humphreys
TEAM NEWS | Sale Sharks v Bristol Bears
Sam James makes his 200th Sharks appearance, Cobus Wiese and Akker van der Merwe return from injury and Rouban Birch and Kieran Wilkinson are rewarded for their cup heroics with places on the replacements bench for the Saturday lunchtime Premiership clash with Bristol Bears (KO 1pm – live on BT Sport).
Jean-Luc and Dan du Preez also return to the Sharks line-up after featuring for South Africa A, while Jono Ross captains the side for the round 11 showdown with Pat Lam’s men.
Springbok hooker Van der Merwe returns to the number two shirt after six weeks out with an ankle injury picked up against London Irish in October, and he takes his place in the front row between the experienced pair of Ross Harrison and Nick Schonert.
Wiese also returns from ankle lay-off to partner Josh Beaumont in the second row, while the Du Preez twins line-up alongside skipper Ross in the back row.
Gus Warr lines up again at scrum-half alongside fly-half Rob du Preez, and in the centres, Sam Hill starts with the ever-present Sam James, who plays his 200th game for his boyhood club.
Tom Roebuck and Byron McGuigan start on the wings, with full-back Joe Carpenter making up a pacy back three.
Academy products Tommy Taylor and fit-again Simon McIntyre provide front-row cover on the bench, along with Joe Jones, who will be playing his 50th Sharks game if he takes the field.
Sam Dugdale and Friday night’s Premiership Rugby Cup player of the match Birch cover the rest of the forwards.
Joe Simpson, Wilkinson and Arron Reed are the backs replacements.
Sale Sharks Starting XV:
15. Joe Carpenter, 14. Tom Roebuck, 13. Sam James, 12. Sam Hill, 11. Byron McGuigan, 10. Robert du Preez, 9. Gus Warr; 1. Ross Harrison, 2. Akker van der Merwe, 3. Nick Schonert, 4. Cobus Wiese, 5. Josh Beaumont, 6. JL du Preez, 7. Jono Ross ©, 8. Daniel du Preez
16. Tommy Taylor, 17. Simon McIntyre, 18. Joe Jones, 19. Rouban Birch, 20. Sam Dugdale, 21. Joe Simpson, 22. Kieran Wilkinson, 23. Arron Reed.
Images & Content from Sale Sharks Rugby
Falcons forward heads to France
Thursday 24 November 2022
Lock-forward George Merrick has left Newcastle Falcons to join a French club with immediate effect.
The 30-year-old has made 13 appearances since joining from Worcester Warriors in the summer of 2021, and leaves with the thanks and best wishes of the club.
Newcastle Falcons head coach Dave Walder said: “George has been offered an exciting playing opportunity over in France and we wish him all the best for his move.
“He has been a positive presence around our squad during his time here, and on behalf of the entire coaching team I’d like to thank him for his contribution.”
Merrick said: “I’ve loved my time in Newcastle with a great bunch of boys, and I’m looking forward now to this new challenge.”
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