By PA Sport
Last Updated: 01/01/19 10:23pm
Steve Diamond rejected the idea there was anything wrong with his methods
Sale Sharks director of rugby Steve Diamond has defended his methods after a heated exchange with a journalist who had accused him of being a bully overshadowed Saturday’s impressive victory over Gloucester.
Diamond was keen to draw a line under the post-match incident after avoiding an RFU investigation but rejected the idea there was anything wrong with his methods, having faced allegations he created an intimidating atmosphere and ignored medical advice when it came to dealing with injuries.
“No, I don’t think I am misunderstood,” he said. “I think it’s a case of a couple of people forming their opinion.
“I am a massive believer in looking after our assets and our players.
“When Danny Cipriani was here, I looked after him and got him through the problems that he had before.
“There were one or two players who had been in here before and one or two players who are still here who we have looked after.
“That’s not just me, that’s the whole club.”
Diamond said he worked closely with the Rugby Players’ Association to prioritise player welfare and pointed to the club’s strong injury record.
“All of our medical protocols are exemplary,” he said. “We have the lowest injury rate in the competition for the seventh year, at the halfway stage – I think we’re 35 per cent behind everybody else.
“So any medical issues, our medical staff deal with them appropriately and always have done.”
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As he spoke at Sale’s training centre, Diamond was flanked by star players Chris Ashton, Faf De Klerk and Josh Beaumont, with the latter pair having signed fresh contracts to commit their future to the club in recent days.
“Forget Faf, who has been here 18 months, or ‘Ashy’, who has been here six months,” Diamond said.
“‘Beau’ has been here as man and boy. He could have gone to any club. He chose to stay. You don’t choose to stay if you don’t enjoy it and you are bullied. That’s it.”
Diamond says players like Josh Beaumont would not have signed contract extensions with Sale if there was a bullying culture at the club
It was a view echoed by De Klerk, who has signed until 2023.
“If I wasn’t happy, I wouldn’t re-sign,” the South African said. “And the guys who are staying – you can read into that.
“Guys wouldn’t sign if they weren’t happy. I am enjoying it here, I am enjoying my time here, the guys are committing to the club and what we want to do, so I am very positive for the future.”
And Diamond talks a good game when it comes to that future. Sale have finished in the top six three times in the last seven years despite running on the lowest payroll in the Premiership – currently operating around 25 per cent under the salary cap.
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But Diamond said he is preparing to announce a string of contract extensions and the signings of five new internationals to take the club up to the cap and – he hopes – into the top four.
Those internationals will not include the Du Preez brothers, who only joined on short-term deals, but could include one England player.
“I run a lean business,” said Diamond. “We’re going to go salary cap on 5,000-strong crowds and we’re going to break even. We don’t get 15,000 people coming in here.
“Our players are paid on average more than players at any other club – by the number of players we have and what we spend.
“I look at it this way: player welfare is massive. Looking after them in the training week is enormous.
“That’s why people sign, and the vision that we put together. It’s a very simple formula.”