Sale boss blames salary cap for English clubs’ European exit
Rugby sales director Alex Sanderson insists the Premiership’s lower salary cap is making it difficult for English clubs to compete with star-studded French sides in Europe.
After a promising first half, Sale was beaten 41-22 by Racing 92 in Paris to end England’s representation in the Heineken Champions Cup in the quarter-finals.
The Premiership salary cap is now £5million, significantly lower than spending by some of English clubs’ European rivals, but Sanderson believes they must try to close the gap through good coaching and building a solid infrastructure.
“Yes, of course, because you don’t have the money to bring in the quality of players you need,” Sanderson said when asked if the salary cap prevented English clubs from competing with French teams.
“There has always been a salary cap difference between French and English clubs. When Toulon had a salary cap of £20m and English clubs had between £5m and £6m, yet they managed to to win.
“You can close the gap in the salary cap with really good coaching, decent infrastructure and culture as well. You can bridge the talent gap with cohesion and decent coaching.
Teddy Thomas, Finn Russell, Juan Imhoff and Max Spring scored Racing’s tries, with Nolann Le Garrec and Maxime Machenaud scoring 21 points between them.
Sale scored three tries through Manu Tuilagi, Akker van der Merwe and Ben Curry, with Robert Du Preez scoring seven points.
Sale led at half-time, but Racing’s firepower behind the scrum proved to be the difference.
“It’s really frustrating,” Sanderson said. “I don’t think you can dispute the result. You don’t win the quarterfinals by shipping 40 points.
“It wasn’t for lack of effort. Our free kick and physicality were mostly on point, but some of our decisions gave them a fast ball.
“We played into their hands in the second half and the game slipped away from us.”
Racing will face La Rochelle, last season’s beaten finalists, in the semi-finals next weekend in Lens.
Scottish fly-half Russell insists it is a big target for the Paris club, having been runners-up in 2016, 2018 and 2020, to win the Champions Cup for the first time in their history, but wary of the threat that La Rochelle will pose. in the last four.
“We are focused on winning the Champions Cup,” said Russell. “The Top 14 is good, but after playing in three Champions Cup finals, the club are desperate to win.
“We got a good win against Sale and we are looking forward to the semi-final.
“La Rochelle was very good against Montpellier, and they are a classy team. They were finalists last year.
“They beat us straight after the Six Nations 19-0 so we know how tough it will be next week. Obviously the goal is to reach the final, but first we have to get through next week.
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