Steve Diamond: Sale Sharks director of rugby leaves for personal reasons

Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond has left the Premiership club after 10 years in charge for personal reasons.

Diamond, 52, who made 290 appearances for Sale as a player, rejoined the club in January 2011 and has also had spells as the club’s chief executive.

He leaves the Sharks just three matches into the 2020-21 Premiership season, the team having won two of those games.

“I now look forward to taking some time out and planning my next challenge,” he told the club website.

Sale say attack and skills coach Paul Deacon – a former Bradford Bulls and Wigan rugby league player – will be head coach while the club “take stock and plan for the future”.

After briefly working as a coach at Sale in 2001 after hanging up his boots, Diamond worked with England Saxons, Saracens and Russia before returning to the club a decade later.

“I feel that this is the perfect moment to hand over to someone else, given the club is now stable and in a great position to compete at the highest level,” Diamond said.

“We have acquired a world class training facility, built an academy that is the envy of many Premiership clubs and constructed a squad that can win tournaments and trophies at domestic and European level.”

Sale are set to begin their Champions Cup campaign on Saturday with a trip to French side Toulon.

Diamond’s departure ‘cannot be performance-based’ – analysis

BBC Rugby Union correspondent Chris Jones

This has come totally out of the blue, and is a major surprise given Diamond’s status at the club.

Not only has he been director of rugby at Sale for much of the past decade, but he has also acted as chief executive, and as a club shareholder.

The reasons for his departure cannot be performance-based. While as a character he has occasionally divided opinion, as a coach he made Sale relentlessly competitive on a tight budget, and then since the new owners came in a few years back he has built a squad equipped to challenge for trophies.

It is likely there are financial elements to this development, and it will be interesting to see in what shape Sale – and other Premiership clubs – emerge from the pandemic.

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