Sale tie Saint-André and Hodgson to new long-term contracts

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The Independent Online

Philippe Saint-André yesterday committed himself to three more years as Sale's director of rugby. The former France international winger, who won 69 caps, has been touted as a possible successor to the France coach, Bernard Laporte, who has indicated he will step down after next year's Rugby World Cup.

But Saint-André, 39, is one of four names being linked to the job, the others being Fabien Galthié of Stade Français, Guy Noves of Toulouse and Patrice Lagisquet of Biarritz, so even if Laporte steps down, or is sacked, there is still no guarantee that the Sale director of rugby would get the job.

After Sharks had lifted the Premiership title in May, Sale's owner, Brian Kennedy, had said he wanted Saint-André to stay at the club. And Kennedy has remained true to his word with a deal that keeps Saint-André, whose present contract expires at the end of this season, at Sale until 2010.

But Saint-André did admit that, in the event of his being offered the France job, there was a get-out clause in the new deal. "I am now committed to Sale for the next three years. If I have an international job [offer] and it is the right moment maybe I will go." The fact that the contract expires a year before the 2011 Rugby World Cup suggests that Saint-André might well have his eye on pitching to take France into that tournament.

Sale ensured stability among their coaching staff by securing the signature of Kingsley Jones, the head coach, also until 2010.

The club also ended speculation about Charlie Hodgson's future. The England fly-half has signed a four-year extension to his contract, keeping him at the club until 2011. Hodgson has scored more than 1,000 points since his Sale debut six years ago and, according to the chief executive, Niels de Vos, had the chance to earn more money with a move to a European club. But Hodgson said: "It was an easy decision to sign a new contract. Sale gave me my opportunity in the first place and I'm very loyal."

Munster suffered a serious blow to their Heineken Cup hopes yesterday when Anthony Foley was ruled out until the new year, having injured a shoulder against Leicester on Sunday. It was also a blow to Ireland, whose coach, Eddie O'Sullivan, named a 32-man squad for the autumn internationals yesterday. There were few surprises as four uncapped players joining the party.

The board of European Rugby Cup, organisers of the Heineken Cup meet today to discuss a proposal by the English and French clubs to take the shareholding away from the Unions and hand it to the clubs. The clubs want more say in the commercial side of the tournament and wish to enter into a 50-50 shareholding arrangement with their respective unions. If the clubs fail to get the RFU's support it could lead to more problems between Premier Rugby Limited and Twickenham, with English and French clubs possibly refusing to take part in future tournaments if the proposals are rejected.