Sale Sharks director of rugby Steve Diamond has promised to “have a crack” at both the European Rugby Challenge Cup and the Gallagher Premiership, after reaching the semi-finals of the former and climbing to sixth in the latter.
The English club now face a tricky tie later this month at La Rochelle in their first Challenge Cup semi-final since 2008, following their 20-10 home win over Connacht Rugby last Friday.
But Diamond said: “We’re going to have a crack at both. If we can get to a final in two years of Ged [Mason], myself and Simon [Orange] owning the club, we’d be delighted. And if we can get in the Heineken Champions Cup next year, we’d be even more delighted, so we’re going on all fronts.”
The Sharks chief admitted that Sale’s bid for a third Challenge Cup – following their successes in 2002 and 2005 – would depend on their casualty list.
“Getting through today without any injuries was massive for us because our squad is thin,” he said. “That’s where we’re at at the moment. We’re literally training two days a week at the minute to keep people on the field.”
— Sale Sharks🦈 (@SaleSharksRugby) March 30, 2019
For Connacht, their bid for a first Challenge Cup is over, after suffering their second defeat at the AJ Bell Stadium this season.
Head coach Andy Friend tweeted: “Our European dream has ended – certainly not what we were planning on. We’ll definitely learn/grow and be stronger for it. A huge thank you to our supporters – you guys are awesome.”