Sale move Irish clash to Reebok
September 28, 2010
The Reebok Stadium will host its first rugby match when London Irish take on Sale Sharks in April 2011 © Getty Images
Sale Sharks' Aviva Premiership clash with London Irish on April 16, 2011 will take place at the Reebok Stadium in Bolton.
The Stockport-based side have attracted less than 8,000 spectators to their opening two home games of the season, but they are targeting a 28,200 sellout at the home of Bolton Wanderers. Sale chief executive Mick Hogan was delighted with the announcement. "Today's announcement is the culmination of nearly 12 months work to enable us to announce this event," he said.
"We now have seven months to achieve a sell-out crowd, and I truly believe that there are almost 30,000 people in the north-west who would like to attend a live game of Sale Sharks rugby. We want to show the north-west some real ambition and give the region a rugby team that they can truly be proud to support."
The Sharks will follow in the footsteps of Premiership rivals Saracens, who use Wembley for some of their biggest games, and London Wasps and Harlequins who have used Twickenham for some home fixtures over the last two seasons. The trend is not confined to England as French and Irish clubs have both moved big games from their home stadiums to larger capacity venues.
After a miserable 2009-10 season that saw the Edgeley Park outfit flirt with relegation, the Sharks have started this season witht two wins from four games and will look to attain a financial boost from the Irish visit as the season approaches climax.
Although larger local venues like Manchester United's Old Trafford and Manchester City's Eastlands were ruled out, the decision was between Bolton Wanderers' home at the Reebok and Wigan Athletic's DW Stadium, with the club eventually deciding on the Bolton venue.
And Sale fly-half Charlie Hodgson welcomed the move. "As a player, you want to be play rugby on the biggest stage," the England international said. "To have the opportunity to play for Sale Sharks at one of the UK's great stadiums will be a fantastic honour for the players who are selected.
"Having begun my career with the club in front of 1,800 people at Heywood Road, it's absolutely amazing to think that we will be playing a home match at a world class stadium in front of 28,200 people."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"The thirst for knowledge has seen coaches break away from the confines of rugby and look to America." Tom Hamilton on the two-way learning process
On Saturday, New Zealand face the USA in a match that has been 40 years in the making. Tom Hamilton finds the atmosphere building in Chicago
Most modern rugby players will not know the name Ray Williams but they should be eternally grateful to him, writes John Taylor
With the All Blacks playing the USA Eagles this weekend, Craig Dowd says rugby is ready to make a professional breakthrough Stateside