Sale Sharks: European Challenge Cup 2015/16

All roads lead to Lyon for Sale Sharks next season as they learnt their fate with the draw of the European Challenge Cup 2015/16. After failing to secure a spot at the elite table of the European Champions Cup, Sale will hope that the Challenge Cup provides some much needed silverware. After being confirmed as a tier 1 seed for the qualification draws they will be hoping for a manageable route to the final.

Standing in the way of Sale in Pool 2 will be Newport Gwent Dragons from the Pro12, as well as Castres and Pau of the French Top 14. Each side will pose a threat to Sales hopes of European success and a chance to earn their place in the Champions Cup for 2016/17.

The away days for fans will certainly be an aspect for them to look forward to; but for many they will be checking their maps for Pau and Castres this evening.

Opposition in Profile

 

Newport Gwent Dragons

A top place finish at the pool stages of last season’s Challenge Cup will provide the Dragons with plenty of confidence heading into this year’s competition. They ultimately succumbed to eventual losing finalists Edinburgh, 45-16. Ninth place in the Pro12 will not exactly strike fear in the hearts of many Sale fans but it must be noted that they beat Stade Francais in this competition last year. Many of the Dragons players will be known by supporters but the one to really keep an eye out for is the Welsh number 8 Taulupe Faletau.

Away day need to know

Come on you know this one, just a short (ish) trip to down to the south of Wales. The closest of away trips in this competition but still guaranteed to be a lively day out at Rodney Parade.

Castres

A 12th placed finishing position in this year’s Top 14 belies the fact that in 2013 Castres lifted the title with a 19-14 defeat of Toulon. They will be looking to bounce back next season on the domestic and European front meaning Sale should be wary of the wounded beast. The prospect of seeing Sitiveni Sivivatu, the former Clermont and All Black gracing the wing of the AJ Bell will hopefully draw in the crowds.

Away day need to know

The south west of France had best prepare for an invasion of Sharks fans as they follow their side in this year’s competition. In the midi-Pyrenees fans will be able to enjoy beers alongside the Agout River.

Pau

The newly promoted D2 champions may find European competition as a minor nuisance this season as surely priority for coach and former all black, Simon Mannix, will be maintaining Top 14 status. In winning the D2 with a month to spare the club have had more time than many are afforded with which to make preparations for next seasons battles. Following the World Cup, All Blacks Colin Slade and Conrad Smith will be making the move to Pau bolstering an already powerful backline.

Away day need to know

Found in the foothills of the Pyrenees in south west France near the border with Spain fans will surely be looking forward to a trip to sample the excellent gastronomic delights as well as the on field appetisers.

The first round of fixtures will be played over the weekend beginning the 12th November 2015. Steve Diamond will hope to lead Sale back to the success of previous seasons and build upon what was a good season despite the late failure to secure 6th positon and Champions Cup rugby.
“Main Photo”


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