Last Friday night’s opening round win for Sale over Northampton was important in many ways for Steve Diamond. It was the club’s first round one win in the Premiership since 2013, it drew a line under the chaotic way the Sharks 2019/20 campaign ended with a match cancellation last month, and it also poignantly allowed the coach to celebrate the memory of his mother who passed away the day before the game.   

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‘Big Mo’ Diamond died last Thursday at the age of 85 following a short illness and the Sale boss used his media sessions ahead of this Friday’s trip to reminisce about the influence she had on moulding him into the style of Premiership coach that he is. 

“Around the building, in our little environment here, we have had four family deaths over the last six weeks for various reasons and none of them thankfully Covid. It puts in perspective kicking a ball around,” he said. 

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“Manu’s (Tuilagi) dad passed away. John Kirkpatrick, the conditioner, his dad passed away. Valery Morozov’s brother tragically died in a car crash the week before last, and my mum passed away last Thursday. She played a big part in my life. She was 85, she had a good innings… she wasn’t a big person actually but in the realms of personality, she could swear with the best.

“She was driving the car three days before she died. It was a very short illness. Tough lady. Six kids, all born at home, all born within six years. Had no records of her in the hospital. The last time she went to hospital was 1961 when she had my brother who was 24 weeks premature. That was the only records they had of her, so a proper tough cookie. 

“Worked all her life until she was 75. Ran the local rugby club, cleaned it, did the changing rooms, did the food, and there were lots of people my age and younger and older who looked at her for that reason. She was there 20-odd years. A proper matriarch. You don’t want anyone to leave but if it’s very short and very quick, and I can speak for her because I can do, it was probably the best way to go. 

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“The way I deal with the players is a lot of the way I was brought up. My dad died when I was 15 so my mother was on her own for virtually 40 years. That’s a tough life. In the world that we live in people could take a leaf out of those days, how people lived and how people were resilient. That is what I have always taken and that is what I do. 

“The thing I take most is how we were brought up. We were brought up with tough love and we were brought up to work at 13 and 14 in restaurants, waiting on (tables), milk jobs, on the farms locally, picking potatoes, picking carrots.

“We had an upbringing which some people wouldn’t like. Nobody ever didn’t go to school but every Saturday, Sunday, everybody was working as kids. I instil that same drive into my kids and into the lads who work for us. Some like it, some don’t.”

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