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The 'bankrupt' Wray advice Eddie Jones passed on to Alex Sanderson

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

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Rookie director of rugby Alex Sanderson has revealed how a Nigel Wray story passed onto him by England boss Eddie Jones is helping him to cope with the draining time demands of the position he took over at Sale last January. Having only previously worked as an assistant at Saracens, it was a big leap for the 42-year-old ex-England back-rower to step out of his comfort zone and become the main man at another club.      


A considerable challenge is his time management given that he is now the figurehead for the Manchester club and nine months into the job, Sanderson has now explained how a pep talk from England boss Jones has helped him maintain the high-intensity level demanded by the director of rugby role. 

Both coaches have Saracens connections – and their time there did overlap. The 61-year-old Jones came to Saracens in 2006, initially as a technical advisor, not long after Sanderson had prematurely retired from playing through injury, and they went on to work there together on the coaching staff when the current Sale boss started back at the London club as an assistant.  

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This ensured that Sanderson had his ears pricked when the name of Wray, the long-serving Saracens owner who only sold his controlling interest in the club earlier this month, cropped up during a recent dinner conversation when Jones visited Manchester to strengthen the connection between England and Sale.

“He [Jones] took me out for a meal because he came up and we had a chat,” explained Sanderson. “He said, ‘What keeps you up at night?’ For me, it is the next day. I need to know that I am doing everything I can for that next day because I am still trying to find my feet and prove to myself that I can do this job. 

“And I said, ‘What about you? You have been doing it for 30 years, what keeps you driven, what keeps you going to the intensity that you do it, what keeps you up at night?’ He quoted Nigel Wray of all people, which is quite apt because he got on with Nigel and Nigel is worth however much he is worth and he could have retired 30 years ago, couldn’t he? He doesn’t because he is still super-driven. 


“What drives him [Wray]? He wakes up every day and convinces himself that he is bankrupt and that is a good way to look at it because every day you have to go out and make a fortune and as a coach, it’s probably the same thing.

“For me last week is done now. Harlequins is done. You are only as good as your last game but as a coach your sessions, your presentations, how you interact, was I as good today as I was last week prepping for Quins… I question myself on that and the lads [the Sale assistant coaches] have a similar type of intensity. You have to come and apply yourself as well as you did the day before.”


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