Sarra Elgan Column
Never too early for fireworks
November 1, 2012
Leicester's Manu Tuilagi and Northampton wing Chris Ashton famously came to blows during their clash in the Premiership semi-finals in 2011 © Getty Images
November 5 may still be a few days away but there have already been some fireworks at Sale Sharks.
We're just eight weeks into a new season and chief executive Steve Diamond has wielded his axe again - no sooner had forwards coach Steve Scott been shown the door, director of rugby Bryan Redpath appeared to be offered the same exit but chose not to walked through that door - more like around it and into another room. Redpath was "removed" from his post but the club insisted that he remained in their employment with the Scot eventually confirmed in the new role of head coach.
One suspected the writing was on the wall for Redpath when Diamond put in the call to former Sale player and coach John Mitchell. We hear Mitchell's return is imminent with the former All Blacks coach and England assistant recently confirmed as a member of the Sharks' 'rugby strategy management board' that is set to guide the fortunes of the club.
Mitchell recently commented that "a club can only have one leader" but will he be that man? I'm sure Diamond, who will take charge of the side until the end of the current campaign, will have something to say about that. I say this because as much as Steve tries to stay off the training paddock, he doesn't seem to be able to with the club's chief executive stepping back into a tracksuit in the short term like he did last season after Tony Hanks' departure.
Steve has done so much since returning to Sale both on and off the field. He has turned around their fortunes, moved the club to a brand new stadium and secured Heineken Cup rugby. He has worked tirelessly and everything he does is with passion and love for the club, a club that he battled so valiantly for as a player but he cannot do everything and not expect everything to be done his way. We will have to wait and see what the outcome to this story is but I suspect that there will be a few more twists and turns this season.
This week my travels took me to a club that is a little more settled. I was dispatched to Franklins Gardens (as it happens one of Steve Diamond's former haunts) to interview Dorian West.
I wasn't sure what to expect having never interviewed Dorian before, nor had much eye contact or even exchanged a friendly 'Hello'. He always seems pretty focused on match days so my microphone and the former Leicester hooker haven't had much contact.
My mission was to try and get Dorian to open up about the East Midlands rivalry with Leicester, their opponents in front of the ESPN cameras this weekend, and his relationship with Tigers boss Richard Cockerill. They were rivals for the No.2 jersey during their time at Leicester during their playing days and are still battling it out in opposite camps in their coaching career.
I was even armed with chocolate chip cookies but Dorian still didn't give much away. Players and coaches these days don't talk up such things in the event of it coming back to bite them on the proverbial, but we, the media love a good rivalry.
Tensions between two neighboring clubs, both of whom are genuine title contenders, is to be expected and in recent seasons there has been a fair bit of agro between both players and coaches.
So no matter how much West and his players played down their latest showdown with Leicester, both you and I know we can expect more fireworks - and again I'm not talking the variety that go bang in the air!
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Sarra Elgan is a reporter for ESPN's coverage of the Aviva Premiership