Sale face possible sanction after attempt to meet EQP average

Steve Diamond

Sale Sharks may face possible punishment from Premiership Rugby after fielding a weakened but all-English side against Harlequins this Saturday. The Sharks currently sit below the required English Qualified Player (EQP) average of 14 players per 22 for the season, with each club rewarded with £80,000 at the end of the season if they make this figure.

Before Round 22, each club’s average reads like this:

Harlequins 19.42, Gloucester 17.33, Worcester 16.73, Exeter 16.55, Bath 15.75, Saracens 15.23, Northampton 15.10, Newcastle 15, Irish 14.73, Leicester 14.08, Wasps 14.08, Sale 13.33

As a result, Sale have left out many of their best performers this season before facing the league leaders, including number 8 Andy Powell, scrum-half Dwayne Peel and joint top points scorer in the league Nick MacLeod, ruling the him out of picking up the Golden Boot at the end of the season. The move also could have repercussions for the top four, with leaders Harlequins arguably facing an easier task than if Sale were including their foreign stars, as a result leaving little doubt that they will win a home semi-final in the playoffs.

The move is being seen as a gamble by some Sale fans with their Heineken Cup spot for next season not yet 100% guaranteed. A heavy defeat to Harlequins plus a Bath bonus point win at Welford Road may seem unlikely, but the club will be left embarrassed if they fail to get the place. What’s more, the club could face either a Premiership Rugby fine that would cancel out their £80,000 payment from the RFU, or even a points deduction which would threaten their Heineken Cup spot.

What do you make of Sale’s move? Is it the right decision in what will be the final game at Edgeley Park after 9 years? Let us know.

Sale Sharks: 15.Rob Miller, 14.Tom Brady, 13.Will Addison, 12.Luther Burrell, 11.Mark Cueto, 10.Tommy Bell, 9.Scott Mathie, 1.Lee Imiolek, 2.Marc Jones, 3.Henry Thomas, 4.Kearnan Myall, 5.Tom Holmes, 6.Will Bordill, 7.David Seymour (capt.), 8.Mark Easter.

Replacements: 16.Tommy Taylor, 17. Ross Harrison, 18.Joe Ward, 19.Billy Emerson, 20.Jordan Davies, 21.Will Cliff, 22.Iain Thornley, 23.Charlie Amesbury.

17 thoughts on “Sale face possible sanction after attempt to meet EQP average

  1. I cant see how Premiership Rugby can fine Sale for this? Sale have a squad and can choose whom ever they want to be selected. They could easily say they are looking to increase the strength in depth of the squad for next year by testing out their youngsters against strong competition

  2. how can they get fined for playing players in the squad!! not random players pulled off the street they have a set group of players in the limits of the price quota why can’t they use whatever players they like???

  3. First and foremost those EQP stats aren’t an accurate reflection of the season, surely the World Cup and Six Nations periods (when league matches were being played) should be excluded from the calculation? If Leicester for example dropped below the magic figure of 14, would they be penalised by Premiership Rugby despite losing players to England during both those periods?

    Anyway, as regards to Sale, it appears pretty cynical on their part to field an all English squad for the final match of the season just to meet the criteria…surely if they believed in those players they’d have featured in the squad on a more regular basis.

    Furthermore, its disrespectful to the rest of the league for Sale to think it’s ok to field a weakened side against the league leaders.

    1. Why has everyone gone moral all of a sudden? To use the ridiculous (but relevant) misogyny term “don’t hate the player, hate the game”…. If it is in the rules that you can’t pull this stunt then they should be punished. But if it isn’t why wouldn’t Sale do this? If they consider the risk worth the potential reward its the logical choice. You can’t blame a club for exploiting loopholes however immoral we all think it is.

  4. Little sympathy if they are punished. They’ve had since September to meet the quota, didn’t have to be done this way in the last-minute.

    Feel sorry for MacLeod missing out on his chance to get the Golden Boot.

    I doubt there will be any serious repercussions, but you never know.

  5. They can’t be too hot at maths, even if the field 23 EQP playerys they won’t make 14 average if they are on 13.33 after 21 rounds.

    Congrats to Quins for topping this table as well.

      1. And maybe the Sale Whale counts for 2. I would rather see their 80K split between the 11 teams that have met the target.

  6. Well if any club flout the rules, especially for financial gain, relegate them. That will stop these problems that arise at the end of the season.

  7. Surely the focus should be on how Premiership Rugby would be able to class a coaches selection as weakened?

    Would it be down to their opinion? or done on say a% of players involved who are on academy contracts?

    If the latter then Sale only have two starters who are on such contracts and potentially another 3 on the bench. Surely such stats arent unheard of during a clubs season? Especially this season when so many teams have looked at their younger players to step up.

    Otherwise, how could premiership rugby say that Easter hasn’t completely outtrained powell this week, Bell has been slotting them from left right and centre and Bordill has been tackling like a new Neil Back. Could just end up their opinion against Diamonds.

    1. Sale (sorry, ‘The Sharks’) seem to be turning into Steve Diamond’s vanity project these days – and alienating fans in the process.

  8. I’d suggest people look at how these “Weakened” players have been playing for Leeds and you’ll see that they have been playing very well so yes, in one breath you can say they haven’t appeared for Sale but with the experience they have gained in the Championship means that next season they could be seen more regularly so why not give them a shot in our final game. Every team has a squad that they name at the start of the season and it is then down to each teams managment to decide how it is best to use that squad to put teams out on game day and it is not for the RFU to decide otherwise. Yeah, I raised an eyebrow at the team selected thinking this is the final game at Edgeley Park and we want to cement our place in the Heineken Cup next year but then you’ve got to ask, what is more dangerous than a team with players who all have a point to prove, to show they should be given more starting opportunities for next season, who pretty much have nothing to loose? If the RFU fine Sale for their decisions then it’s hypocritical, they made the decision to offer this ‘bonus’ to teams so if they decide to do what they feel is neccessary to obtain it? Don’t like it then don’t offer it, you made the rod for your own back RFU.

  9. A seriously weakened team! Sale should most certainly be punished. Next season Steve Diamond will fall flat on his sulky fat face. Still smarting over his dismissal a few seasons ago maybe? AnneB

  10. Actualy, aren’t Sale at risk of breaching the rule regarding fielding a full front row on the bench? I just looked at their site, and of the three front row replacements in the team, two are listed as Hookers, one as Prop.

    The rule was brought in to get rid of the spectacle of uncontested scrums, but unless one of those hookers can prop as well, surely Sale are breaking that rule?

    1. 2 hookers are front row players if 3 props get injured the hooker has to play prop so no difference they arn’t specialized tight loose hooker they are frontrow capable players so no they have 3 front row specialists


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