Sale Sharks are back in the Premiership Rugby Final for the first time since the 2005/06 season. The last time the Sharks reached Twickenham Stadium for the showpiece event, they came away as champions after a 45-20 triumph over Leicester Tigers.
England fullback Jason Robinson lifted the trophy that day, after tries from Mark Cueto, Magnus Lund, Oriol Ripol and replacement Chris Mayor stretched significant daylight between the two sides. Chris Hodgson added one conversion, six penalties and a drop goal to ensure Sale took their first Premiership trophy back up North.
This Saturday, Sale Sharks return to Twickenham as they take on Saracens in the Premiership Final. But lets look back on the starting XV legends of ’06, and ask ‘where are they now?’
15. Jason Robinson (C)
Despite retiring from international rugby in 2005, Robinson was called back into the England set-up for the 2007 Six Nations by Head Coach Brian Ashton. After the competition, Robinson played his final match for Sale, marking it with a match-winning try in the final play against Bath.
Robinson had a final Twickenham farewell as a Barbarian in 2007, and after a four year retirement, Robinson re-emerged and signed with National League 2 side Flyde. He played one season with the Lancashire club, before returning back to retirement on the 7th July 2011.
The following year, Robinson saw his son Lewis Tierney, sign his first professional rugby league contract with Wigan Warriors.
14. Mark Cueto
Cueto pressed on for a legendary career with Sale Sharks, whilst becoming even more of a mainstay in the England squad. In February 2013, Cueto broke the Premiership’s try-scoring record, when he surpassed Steve Hanley’s 75 try mark. Cueto carried on to end his Sale career in 2015, with a then record setting 90 Premiership tries.
Cueto continued to impress on the international stage, and garnered mainstream attention to the point of becoming the cover star for PlayStation game Rugby 08 with Richie McCaw. Cueto scored 20 international tries, his last coming at the 2011 Rugby World Cup against France. Cueto hung up his boots in 2015, and has made sporadic appearances as a pundit.
13. Mark Taylor
Mark Taylor retired at the end of the 2006/07 Premiership season, and soon perused a coaching career alongside his part-time roll as a Chartered Account for motoring brand Peugeot. Taylor has previously held coaching roles within his native Wales, as he took up the Team Manager position for the U20s national squad from 2008-2010.
Mark finished with the Wales U20’s in July 2016, and just one month later he was appointed as the Scarlets Team Manager. Taylor has since also taken up a position with Aberavon RFC, as the Backs Coach.
12. Elvis Seveali’i
Seveali’i remained with Sale Sharks, until the end of the 2007/08 Premiership season. The Samoan then joined up with London Irish, and took the Exiles to their one and only Premiership Final to date. London Irish came away with silver medals at the end of the 2008/09 Premiership season, as Leicester Tigers claimed their eighth league title.
The centre left Irish in 2011, which would see him walk away from the Premiership all together. He went on to sign for CS Bourgoin-Jallieu, and helped the French club bounce back after they had just been relegated from the Top 14. The following season, Seveali’i played a sporadic year in Italy with Rovigo, making six appearances in the 2012/13 campaign. Seveali’i tried his hand with coaching in the USA post-retirement, taking the role as Head Coach for California Women’s Rugby.
11. Oriol Ripol
Ripol will be remembered as a key try-scorer in Sale’s victorious Premiership Final. The Barcelona native continued his long tenure in Sale for a further four seasons, and remained with the Sharks until 2010. The winger then took a brief spell with Worcester Warriors for the 2010/11 season.
He was an integral part of the Warrior’s triumphant RFU Championship campaign, and promotion into the Premiership.
10. Charlie Hodgson
Considered to be up there with the all-time Sale Sharks greats, Hodgson had an impressive tenure with the club from 2000 to 2011. As the go-to Fly Half, Hodgson made 228 appearances for Sale, and scored an almighty 2,558 points for the club. He left Sale as the team’s all-time leading points scorer, in what is a record that still stands to this day.
Hodgson moved to London and joined up with Saracens for the 2011/12 Premiership season. Hodgson climbed back to the pinnacle of the Premiership with Saracens, as he won the 2015 and 2016 league title with the Londoners. He also had a role within the side’s European Champions Cup triumph of 2016, as he came off the bench in the final.
This would mark Hodgson’s on field retirement from rugby, yet the former Fly Half took up a brief coaching role with London Irish. With 38 England caps, and the honour of being a British Lion in 2005, Hodgson had a decorated international career as well.
9. Richard Wigglesworth
One of the most decorated players in the history of the Premiership, wherever Richard Wigglesworth went, league titles seemed to follow him. After the crowing victory with Sale, the scrum half remained at the club until joining up with Saracens in 2010. He found immediate success, winning the Premiership in 2010/11, and added an additional four league title winner’s medals whilst with Sarries. (2014/15, 2015/16, 2017/18 and 2018/19).
Alongside his former Sale teammate Charlie Hodgson, Wigglesworth too found glory on the European Champions Cup stage. Wigglesworth won the accolade three times with Saracens, completing the league and European double in 2015/16 and 2018/19. Wigglesworth then joined Leicester Tigers in 2020, and was amongst the squad for the memorable 2021/22 Premiership Final triumph.
Wigglesworth’s coaching roles began part-time during the twilight of his career. He took up Assistant Coach roles with Canada in 2019, and Leicester in 2021 until his on-field retirement. This came in 2022, where he was appointed Interim Head Coach, he will step down from this role as Dan McKellar is set to take over for the 2023/24 campaign.
- Lionel Faure
The French prop stayed with Sale for three more seasons after the Premiership triumph, before heading home in 2009. Faure joined up with Clermont Auvergne in the Top 14, where he remained for the rest of his career.
Faure gained international recognition whilst contracted to Sale, making eight appearances for ‘Les Bleus’ in 2008.
2. Andy Titterrell
Titterrell joined the Sharks early in his professional career, and went on to represent many clubs, as well as gaining international recognition with England and the 2005 British & Irish Lions. The hooker spent one more season with Sale after the Premiership success, before he joined Gloucester.
This marked the end of an eight year tenure in Sale, with Titterrell making 122 caps in the process. Titterrell missed only one match throughout the entire 2005/06 Premiership Season, against Llanelli in the Powergen Cup. Titterrell left Gloucester after three seasons, and joined up with Yorkshire Carnegie. It was with Yorkshire, that Titerrell made a loan return to the Sharks, throughout the 2011/12 Premiership season.
His career then took him North of the border, as he signed with Edinburgh for the 2012/13 season. Titterell ended his playing career back in England, as he played in London Welsh’s final Premiership season, before the club was financially liquidated and dropped to the bottom of the English rugby pyramid. Titterrell had a spell in the coaching scene, as he joined Wasps as the Strength and Conditioning Coach.
3. Stuart Turner
Turner joined and left Sale Sharks in the exact same seasons that his front-row partner Titterell did. Turner arrived in 2001, and was a mainstay in the Sharks pack until his departure in 2009. Sale Sharks was the pinnacle club in Turner’s career, and was the one in which he decided to hang his boots up with.
Three year’s after Sale’s crowning Premiership glory, Turner retired from rugby. Prior to joining Sale Sharks, Stuart Turner previously propped up the front row at Waterloo, Orrell, Worcester and Rotherham East Titans.
4. Carlos Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe
By the time that Sale Sharks lifted the Premiership trophy, Fernandez Lobbe was already a well established name French Top 14 league. He had enjoyed previous spells with Bordeaux and Castres, before finding his way to Premiership silverware with the Sharks.
He stayed in the league for the rest of his career, yet made the move away from Sale just two years after being crowned champion. the Argentine began a new chapter with Northampton Saints, who were recently promoted from the Championship. In 2010, Fernandez Lobbe signed for Bath, but retired shortly after moving to Somerset.
5. Chris Jones
Jones joined up with Sale along with Titterell and Turner, yet departed two year’s after the front rowers. The lock stayed with Sale from 2001 to 2011, and racked up 138 caps in the process. Jones gained England recognition whilst playing for Sale, as he made 12 sporadic caps between 2004 and 2007. This included a predominant roll in Sir Clive Woodward’s 2004 Six Nations squad, and the 2006 Summer Tour of Australia.
Post-sale, Jones found his way to Worcester Warriors, where he stayed for three seasons. Jones yo-yoed between the Premiership and Championship with the Warriors, before his departure to the newly re-branded Yorkshire Carnegie in 2014. This was Jones’ final club in his career, as a concussion suffered against Nottingham brought an end to his on-field days.
6. Jason White
The former Scotland captain was a crucial part of the Sale leadership group, which took them to Premiership glory in 2006. Jason White remained with the Sharks for three additional seasons, and passed the centurion mark for senior caps with 105. The back-rower then made the jump to play in the French Top 14 with Clermont Auvergne.
White ended his playing career in France, as he was unable to re-claim his space in the Scottish national team. White reached the peak of his international career whilst at Sale, as he made 77 appearances for Scotland, as well as featuring on the 2005 British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand. White has since pursued a post-rugby career as a teacher, and in 2017, he took a job at Loretto School, in East Lothian, Scotland.
7. Magnus Lund
The 2006 Premiership title triumph came in the first of two prolonged Sale Sharks stints for Magnus Lund. The back-rower first signed for the club in 2002, and battled his way into becoming a mainstay on the flank for the champion season. After making 116 caps and scoring 11 tries, Lund departed the Sharks and lined up a move with French club Biarritz Olympique in 2008.
The pinnacle of Lund’s time on the Northern coast of France, was when Biarritz claimed the 2012 Challenge Cup title. Lund had the special opportunity to play alongside his brother Erik at Biarritz, as the siblings lifted the European silverware together. Magnus then returned to Sale in 2014, where he remained for the rest of his career, hanging up his boots at the end of the 2016/17 season.
Lund achieved his England caps as a Sale Shark, making 10 senior appearances between 2006 and 2007. Lund had a more consistent role within the England Sevens side, making it as far as the 2006 Commonwealth Games.
8. Sebastian Chabal
There are few faces in rugby as instantly recognisable as Sebastian Chabal. Considered to be one of the toughest opponents to play against, and one of the greatest teammates to play with, Chabal wrapped up the starting XV for Sale’s Premiership title triumph of 2006. The French international made a century of caps for Sale, and left to return home in 2009.
After 101 Sale caps, the back-rower joined Racing 92, following the Parisian’s promotion form the French Rugby Pro D2 league. Chabal stayed in Paris until 2012, when he signed with Top 14 rivals Lyon. Chabal joined Lyon and was relegated out of the top flight, yet he remained loyal to his new club, and led them to win the 2013/14 Rugby Pro D2. This reclaimed Lyon’s status in the Top 14, with Chabal retiring the following season.
Chabal’s international career saw him move initially into the second row. Competition was fierce within Les Blues, with Head Coach Bernard Laporte moving the back-rower into the locks for his early international years. Chabal made the France squad for the 2007 Rugby World Cup, and 2008 Six Nations. Yet he was left out of the 2011 Rugby World Cup squad, and ended his career soon after.
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