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Stockport Rugby Club Sporting Dinner 4th June 2009
stockport rugby club sportman's dinner stockport rugby club sportman's dinner

Avanti's Alex Reyner with former Sale Sharks boss
Philippe Saint-Andre and Stockport Rugby Club
president Julie Fuller

Guest's enjoying the pre-dinner drinks
Article taken from the Stockport Times West Thursday 11th June 2009

stockport rugby club stockport times


FORMER Sale Sharks boss Philippe Saint-Andre admitted he didn't want to bring England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson to his new club Toulon.

Saint-Andre confessed that Wilkinson had been his third choice to lead the French side's back line because he was 'always injured' and 'too expensive'.

Toulon's new director had been reluctant to take a leap of faith with WIlkinson and it wasn't until the club's millionaire owner, Mourad Boudjellal, stepped in promising to personally foot the bill for the England international that the Frenchman agreed.

Shocked

To a shocked audience at a Stockport Rugby Club bash, Saint-Andre explained: "I didn't want to bring Jonny WIlkinson to France because I thought he would be too expensive.

"He was-my third choice fly-half and he was not within my budget.

"I thought that his wages were going to be too high and he
by Cheryl Latham
at Stockport Rugby Club
_________________________

was always injured.

"He had a 12 per cent difference between his left and right quad and he hadn't played for seven months.

"But my chairman was very enthusiastic about Jonny because we needed to have a
good shake-up, so he said he would pick two players and their wages would come from him and not out of my budget"

But Saint-Andre said that since taking a closer look at the England number 10 he's proved to be fully fit.

Perfect

"Jonny came to France and had scans, scans, scans and more scans. And now, he's perfect," said Saint-Andre.

Wilkinson joins Sharks internationals Rory Lamont, Sebastien Bruno and Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe at the cash-rich French side.

Former France captain Saint-Andre, who was capped 69
times for his country, said top
players are making their way across the Channel because not enough revenue is generated in
English rugby to keep them here.

"It's a shame so many players are going but it's your fault because not enough people go to
the game," he said.

"In Marseille we will be playing in front of 65,000 people, but at Sale we only got 6,800.

"That's not enough."

Sale Sharks have been drawn alongside Toulouse, Harlequins and Cardiff Blues in next season's Heineken Cup.

Director of Rugby Kingsley Jones said: "It's a very difficult looking group on paper.

"WInning our home games will be a priority and we will need to pick something up on our travels too.

"Cardiff were very unlucky last season to go out the way they did and Quins put up a great
fight against Leinster. Toulouse will be looking to improve on their form in the competition
over the past couple of years"


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