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Sanderson: Bizarre bare-chested conversation broke ice with Diamond

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Alex Sanderson has revealed the hilariously awkward moment that he first bumped into Steve Diamond after he succeeded him as the Sale director of rugby earlier this year. Diamond stepped away from the Sharks last December for family reasons having been in charge in his second stint at the club since 2012.


Ex-Saracens assistant Sanderson, who played under Diamond at Sale in the early 2000s, was appointed in January as his successor and while the Diamond link at the club has continued under Sanderson as the ex-director’s son remains the Sharks media officer, the paths of the coaches didn’t cross until one day they accidentally bumped into each other at the Mere Resort and Spa in Knutsford.

Both men were bare-chested and in the swimming trunks when they first clapped eyes on each other but any awkwardness between the pair with regards to one man taking the job the other had left quickly disappeared and the pair went on to have a positive catch-up in unexpected surroundings.

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“I didn’t see him for four or five months,” said Sanderson when asked by RugbyPass if he had ever touched base with Diamond since he inherited the ambitious Sale team that his predecessor had built at the AJ Bell Stadium. “He still lives in the locality, he still drinks with Pete Anglesea, he still talks to the coaches but obviously when you leave a place you have to make that separation and he was on a bit of garden leave for a while, going to Ibiza and all of that. 

“I hadn’t seen him for a while and the club got me a membership for the Mere Country Club. It’s very posh, very upper middle class because it has got a swimming pool and my lad hadn’t been swimming because of Covid for two years and he is only four or five. So it has got a really nice swimming pool, there are no plasters in it. It’s a little bit to look at in terms of Cheshire-set housewives, so it has got it all there. It has got a spa.

“So I’m in there bobbing away with my lad who is just drowning basically, I am stopping him from drowning, in my trunks, and in walks Steve Diamond in his trunks with his five-year-old daughter. So this is the first time I have seen him (since taking the job) and you can’t be any more stripped bare, can you? So he gets into the swimming pool and we have a good chat.


“Steve has always been brilliant to me, he signed me up when I first came here (as a player). You know all the story. But to have a man-to-man bare-chested conversation in the swimming pool in our trunks really broke the ice, I guess. We talked about the team he built and it was always kind of on the cards for me to come here and for him to still be here. We talked once or twice about the roles that he would have and that I would come and take over the rugby. There were no ill feelings. He wanted only the best for the club.

“There was no envy or jealousy there over the fact that we were doing well at that point of time and we were kicking on because he actually believed that was what we needed moving forward, and we talked about his prospects of getting back into the game. Bath has been the most recent one but there have been some others. San Diego was one, and he has got prospective backers (ready) to take over clubs who potentially come into some kind of financial trouble on the back of the Covid. He has always got fingers in pies, he has always got something on the go, and there is no animosity (between us).”

Diamond’s link to Bath emerged in the wake of that club’s 71-17 hammering last Sunday at home to Saracens and it has been speculated that he could come in to give Stuart Hooper, a rookie director of rugby, a helping hand as they are bottom of the Premiership having lost all four of their games this season.

Whatever the truth or otherwise of that Bath link, Sanderson reckoned it won’t be long before Diamond is back working in the game somewhere. “He has still got a lot to offer. I can’t speak for him because I haven’t seen him but he was motivated a few months ago, so I assume he is even more so now in terms of getting back into it. 


“It was bandied around that he was doing the (RFU) referees’ job as well. Can you imagine? Not that he would do a bad job, but his relationship with referees is poacher turned gamekeeper. So yeah, there have been loads of rumours about what he could be doing. There will be something on the not too distant horizon for Steve Diamond. He will be back in the game at some point soon.”


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