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'This is a sticky subject': Sale break silence on Marland Yarde exit

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

Sale boss Alex Sanderson has broken the club’s silence on its terminated relationship with Marland Yarde, the ex-England international who tweeted last weekend that he was the unnamed player arrested last January by police. The 30-year-old, who was capped on 13 occasions for his country between 2013 and 2017, last played for the Sharks on January 7 away to Bristol.

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That was his ninth start of the 2021/22 campaign but he was suspended by his club following an incident in Manchester that same weekend as the Bears game. It has now been confirmed that he has exited the club by mutual agreement and isn’t part of the Sale squad for the 2022/23 season – even though the police investigation ended with no charges getting laid down against him.

“He left by mutual agreement,” said Sale boss Sanderson about Yarde when asked by RugbyPass at his Tuesday media briefing what the status between the club and player was. “That was sometime in the summer because of all the negative press and all the association.

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“This is a sticky subject because I care for him and his family and I was the correspondence for him and his mum, so I am not going to go into his mental state or the difficulties he has had over the last eight months which have been extreme. Extreme. I can just say right now from what I hear he is in a good place and he is looking to keep playing the game.”

It was Friday night when Yarde posted an apology on social media that has since been deleted from his account. The statement read: “In January, as I think it is known by some of the rugby community, I was arrested on suspicion of having committed a very serious offence.

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“A necessarily lengthy police investigation followed but I can now confirm that no further action is to be taken against me. I have not been charged with any offence. Whilst I never doubted my innocence, I understand that the investigation had to be handled with care and sensitivity for the protection of all involved. Although innocent of the crime alleged against me, I take full responsibility for having put myself in a situation where an allegation could be made against me.

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“I am working hard to improve as a person using what the incident has taught and shown me. I want to apologise to all my family and friends for the hurt and distress I have caused them. Their love and support gave me the strength to see a positive future, and I look forward to resuming my career doing what I love which is playing rugby.”

The social media post from Yarde confirming that he had not been charged with any offence was the first update on the situation since a club statement on January 12 read: “Sale Sharks have been made aware of an allegation against one of its players and the subsequent arrest of that player by Greater Manchester Police on Sunday, January 9, 2022.

“The player in question has been suspended by Sale Sharks until further notice and is currently cooperating with police officers to assist in their investigation. As this matter is subject to a legal process there will be no further comment at this time.”

Yarde made his Sale debut in November 2017 having originally started the 2017/18 season in the colours of Harlequins, whom he joined in 2014 after initially making the breakthrough into the pro ranks via London Irish.

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His exit from Sale has been offset by the arrival from Exeter of Tom O’Flaherty, who was the scorer of a hat-trick of tries last Friday versus Benetton in the Sharks’ final pre-season match before the start of their new Gallagher Premiership season this Friday at home to Northampton.

“I don’t know if you have seen the pre-season games but Tom O’Flaherty has come in and he is better than I thought he was and he was pretty much the most underrated player in the Premiership last year,” reckoned Sanderson. “He has been brilliant, not just as a player like most people but he is a social animal. He has been accepted and indoctrinated as part of the team.”

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