League: National 2 North

Rotherham Titans


During the 1920s and 1930s the club regularly turned out two teams and on odd occasions three, normally in school holiday periods when local 6th-formers played.[6]

Rotherham in common with many clubs shut down during the Second World War and the club was reformed in 1946 at Clifton Lane. The next fifteen years were a struggle in terms of running teams and raising finance to improve facilities. The club received a big boost when a local secondary modern school started rugby and soon a regular supply of players were coming through.[6]Rugby started to be played in many local schools and the arrival of a number of Physical Education teachers in the area who were rugby specialists helped both the playing standard and the club organisation.[6]

Prior to the advent of a national league structure, Rotherham struggled to get fixtures against establishment sides, largely from the south of England, meaning when the league was established they were placed well down the league structure despite always showing an ambition to develop. This perceived snub by other top teams, and placement at the bottom of the rugby hierarchy fired the initial drive up the leagues and led to several former players such as Mike Yarlett investing their time and resources to transform the club.

Rotherham entered league rugby in 1987 enjoying enormous success with seven subsequent promotions culminating by eventually reaching the Premiership. In the 1988–89 season, Rotherham won the North East 1 title and so began its rise up the rugby pyramid.[7] This was immediately followed up by five further promotions in six seasons to propel the club to the fourth tier of English rugby by 1995–96.

This period in the club’s development was later to be considered the start of the “golden decade”, and secured legendary status for several players including John Dudley, Richard Selkirk, Craig West and Kevin Plant. During this period Rotherham attracted some criticism for their early adoption of paying players during a period later referred to as “Shamateurism” as most progressive clubs in essence paid their players while keeping up the pretence of being Amateur clubs.

In this era, the Yorkshire Cup, still a prestigious competition in which all the top Yorkshire sides competed, became a symbolic quest for the Rotherham players and management. The competition had been dominated for the previous 25 years by Wakefield, Harrogate and the four big Leeds clubs, Headingley, Roundhay, Morley and Otley, none of whom would give Rotherham a fixture prior to the introduction of league rugby. Rotherham reached the final for the first time in their history in 1993, going down 22–5 to Otley,[8] however 2 years later there was no doubting that Rotherham had arrived as they defeated Harrogate 39-3 at Kirkstall to win the Cup for the first and to date only time.

The 1994 County Championship final at Twickenham also provided further evidence of Rotherham’s ascent to senior club status in Yorkshire, as Kevin Plant and Craig West were members of the Yorkshire side (along with soon to be Rotherham scrum-half Guy Easterby — then with Harrogate) who won the championship in exhilarating fashion with a 26–3 triumph over Durham.[9]

Summarising the success in 1995, the independent put Rotherham’s success into context saying:

Luctonians vs Sale FC


On Saturday, Sale made the long cross-country journey to Herefordshire to take on Luctonians in their final game of the season. The blue and whites had already confirmed promotion two weeks ago but, for Luctonians, their goal was clear – they needed a bonus point win to avoid relegation and in hopeful anticipation, Mortimer Park was packed to the rafters.

The match started with both teams using their kicking games to good effect but it was Sale who made the first breakthrough. Following a mazy run from Chris Owen, the ref awarded a penalty to the visitors and, from the resulting scrum, the forwards pushed powerfully towards the try line with Tom Ailes diving over.

On 20 minutes, Sale, in their fluorescent away strip, extended the lead with a brilliant try. Superb runs from Matt Simpson, Joe Kelly and Tom Ailes took the title winners deep into the hosts’ half before Chris Johnson sprinted in and then added the conversion.

Sale were now beginning to dominate territory and looked dangerous every time they had the ball in hand. After Andy Hughes was held up over the line, the third try duly arrived as Tom Ailes again floated over from the base of the five-yard scrum.

The task was beginning to look impossible for the home side but they gave themselves a lifeline before half time as, following a good maul from the forwards, the ball was worked through the hands for Adam Clayton to score under the posts with Sam Boxhall adding the conversion.

HT Luctonians 7 Sale 19

Sale started the final 40 minutes positively and this was epitomised by a barnstorming run from hooker, Chris Taylor, but their superiority from the first half was not to last.

Buoyed on by the vocal home support, Luctonians began to crank up the pressure and eventually crashed over for their second try with Boxhall again adding the extras.

Sale made several changes in an attempt to stem the flow and this included sending on centre, Jack Moorhouse, to play flanker in place of the injured Gareth Rawlings.

Following wave after wave of attacks from the home side, Sale relieved the pressure in the 70th minute as Adam Aigbokhae marauded his way towards the opposition try line. When the black and whites were penalised for offside, Chris Johnson extended the lead back to 8 points with a penalty.

Still the Herefordshire men kept coming and they were rewarded with a third try in the 75th minute when Ben Barkley crashed over with the subsequent conversion narrowing the gap to a single point.

Sale seemed to have done enough when they secured the ball from the kick off and went through a few phases before replacement fly half, Matt Sturgess, kicked the ball into touch believing time was up.

However, to his dismay, the referee indicated that there was still time for the lineout to be taken and when he awarded a penalty to the hosts shortly afterwards, the fly half arrowed the ball into touch close to the try line to set up a frantic finale.

From the first throw, Joe Kelly was penalised for an infringement and shown a yellow card and when Luctonians secured the ball from the second lineout and pushed towards the line, it seemed inevitable that they would secure the crucial bonus point try and the win.

However, after several attempts to breach Sale’s defensive line and with the time in the red zone, the ball was lost in contact to the Champions obvious relief.

FT Luctonians 21 Sale 22

It was impossible not to feel sympathy for the Luctonians players at the final whistle. They had given absolutely everything to a man and had come within inches of avoiding the drop.

As for Sale, having already won the league, it would have been easy for the boys to take their foot off the pedal, but Jon, Tote and the players deserve enormous credit for the fact that they did not.

Instead, and as with every game this season, they put their hearts and souls into the full 80 minutes, defending as if their lives depended on it one last time.

This has been a very special season for a very special team and all at the club are immensely proud of their achievements. The coaches and players will now get some well-earned rest before they embark on what is bound to be a challenging, but incredibly exciting campaign in National League One.

#honthedogs #onesalefc



21 - 22
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Leicester Lions vs Sale FC

5 - 37
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Sale FC vs Huddersfield

21st Celebrations

Sale hosted 6thplace Huddersfield in their final home game of the season, aiming to make it 15 wins from 15 games at Heywood Road. The game kicked off in gloriously sunny conditions and the home side were quickly into their stride in front of a big crowd.

Having been awarded an early penalty, Chris Johnson opted to kick to touch and that decision proved to be a good one as, from a subsequent scrum, the blue and whites scored their first try with the fly half crashing over under the posts, assisted by the majority of the forwards.

Within minutes, the Yorkshiremen hit back as their scrum half, Joel Hinchcliffe, kicked a straightforward penalty but the home side were largely in control and, from yet more powerful forward play, Tom Ailes picked up from the back of a scrum to dive over for a second try.

Despite the heat, the league leaders continued to attack with venom and were rewarded with a third try in the 34thminute when Chris Mayor wriggled his way through the tightest of gaps in midfield before sprinting in unopposed.

The fourth try duly arrived on the stroke of half time as Huddersfield failed to deal with Sale’s dynamic scrummaging and, after three resets, the referee decided enough was enough, awarding a penalty try.

HT Sale 28 Huddersfield 3  

With the bonus point secured, Chris Johnson elected to extend the lead with an early second half penalty but Huddersfield, having a fine season themselves following promotion last year, hit back with a fine individual try from their inside centre, Harry Davey.

There followed a period of frantic rugby as both sides attacked at will but the home side put the game to bed with a fifth try in the 67thminute as replacement hooker, Chris Taylor, hacked on a loose ball before picking up and offloading for Jake Barron to score.

With time almost up, Sale scored a final try as they attacked the away side’s tiring defence at pace with Sam Stelmaszek timing his pass to perfection, allowing winger, Jack Moorhouse, to gallop in. Chris Johnson added the extras to take his points tally in the game to 18.

FT Sale 45 Huddersfield 10

Following two very close games the previous two weeks, this was an impressive performance from Sale against a hard-working Huddersfield side, and extended their winning run to an extraordinary 21 games. Promotion is tantalisingly close, but the coaches and players will not be taking anything for granted as they travel to Leicester Lions next Saturday, knowing that they require one more win from their two remaining games.

45 - 10
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Blaydon vs Sale FC

Sale Survive Again

Sale travelled to the North East at the weekend to play relegation threatened Blaydon at Kingston Park, the home of Newcastle Falcons.

The match got underway in near perfect conditions and the hosts were immediately into their stride on the 4G pitch, throwing the ball about at will to their speedy backs. It was therefore no surprise when they took the lead in the 18thminute as the outside centre picked up a loose ball on halfway and raced away to score.

The response from the blue and whites was almost instantaneous as, from a very strong scrum deep in Blaydon territory, the pack pushed towards the line with Tom Ailes picking up to crash over and level the scores.

However, Blaydon shook off that setback to plunder two more quick tries, the first from a kick through that bounced kindly and the second from another brisk counter attack, to take a healthy interval lead.

HT Blaydon 17 Sale 5

For the second week running, the table toppers were up against it but they got themselves back in the game in the 52ndminute as they took a quick tap penalty with the ball eventually going wide for Jon Blanchard to evade the covering defence.

Momentum then swung the way of the Geordies again as Sam Stelmaszek was shown a yellow card for a tip tackle before the men in red scored a ‘length of the field’ fourth try.

With fifteen minutes remaining, Sale needed a minor miracle to extend their winning run to 20 games but they got themselves a lifeline as Dan Birchall blasted through the defensive line to score following wave after wave of attack.

This seemed to galvanise the visitors and, within five minutes, they took the lead for the first time in the match as they again pulverised the opposition try line before Tom Ailes dived over for his second, and Sale’s fourth try of the game.

With five minutes remaining, Chris Johnson, extended the lead to five points with a penalty from in front of the posts and, with time running out, the blue and whites scored a decisive fifth try as superb attacking play led to Matt Simpson sauntering over from close range.

FT Blaydon 24 Sale 36

For the second week running, Sale were not at their best, but there can be no denying the spirit and dogged determination of this team to find a way to win rugby matches at this crucial stage of the season. Just 3 games now remain with 9 points required for promotion (as finishing level with Sedgley on points we’d still finish top due to wins) but, as Blaydon proved, there are no easy games at this level.


24 - 36
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Sale FC vs Chester

Victory snatched from the jaws of defeat

Seventh placed Chester visited Heywood Road on Saturday looking to put a major dent in Sale’s promotion ambitions and from the kick off, the men in red were on the front foot.

After only four minutes, they found a gap in the home side’s defence with the number 5 eventually scoring in the corner and the fly half, James Robins, adding a fine conversion.

Sale responded almost immediately with Chris Johnson bisecting the posts with a penalty and they then took the lead. Tom Ailes and Sam Stelmaszek made good ground initially before the forwards pummelled the try line and Dan Birchall crashed over for a trademark try.

Rather than having a detrimental effect on the visitors’ morale, this stung them into a quick and positive response as they twice kicked to the corner from penalties and scored tries, the blue and whites failing to stop strong rolling mauls on both occasions.

Chris Johnson kicked another penalty in between those two scores but Sale ended the half under severe pressure and down to fourteen men as Adam Aigbokhae was shown a yellow card.

HT Sale 13 Chester 21

With the away side fully deserving their half time lead, Sale needed to start the second half strongly and they did just that. Jake Pope, on as a replacement, made a bulldozing run to open up the red’s defence and the ball was then thrown wide for Jack Moorhouse to score on his 201stappearance for the club.

Again, this did not deter the men from Chester who pulverised the Sale try line for several minutes, although this time the home side held firm, much to the relief of the sizeable home support.

With ten minutes remaining and their long winning run under severe threat, the hosts put everything into a sustained spell of pressure and, just as Chester looked to have survived, three players combined to charge down an attempted clearance with Jake Barron pouncing on the loose ball to score.

The lead was extended to nine points late on when Chris Johnson opted to kick for the posts from another penalty and this proved to be a wise decision as Chester scored a fourth try in the final minute.

FT Sale 30 Chester 28

As the coaches said afterwards, this was a fantastic game to watch from a neutral perspective but an absolute nightmare from their point of view. Chester fully deserved their two bonus points and had a right to feel disappointed at the final whistle. As for Sale, they dug deep yet again to make sure that their destiny remains in their own hands with a maximum of 15 points now required from the last four games.

In Perspective

  • Chester are the first team this season to put four tries past Sale FC (home or away)
  • This is the biggest score against Sale FC at Heywood Road since we lost to Caldy (26-38) in December 2016
  • This is the highest number of points we have conceded in a game this season (home or away)
  • Only 2 teams have scored more points against us since September 2016
    • South Leicester (39pts) 24th Sep 2016
    • Caldy (38pts)  3rd Dec 2016


30 - 28
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