Sale's members in revolt over sacking

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The Independent Online
Sale members scandalised at the club executive's decision to sack the Welsh player-coach responsible for their widely admired style of rugby will attempt instead to dismiss those responsible and reinstate Paul Turner at the club's annual meeting on 12 June, writes Steve Bale.

The prospective uprising is a reflection of members' incredulity at Turner's ousting last week while he was in Italy as one of the coaches on a tour by the North. "I feel I was the victim of a kangaroo court and have turned to the members to ensure my case is heard," he said yesterday.

These bizarre events have come at the end of a season of impressive consolidation by Sale, who were fifth in the English First Division but with three points more than they gained in finishing fourth in 1994-95. "My record," as Turner pointedly remarked, "speaks for itself."

When Sale made the imaginative step of appointing the former Wales outside- half in 1992 they were a humdrum Second Division club who narrowly avoided relegation to the Third in Turner's first season.

In 1994 they were promoted as champions and, unlike most promoted teams, have been secure in the First Division ever since, with Turner, even at 37, still contributing so much that he was overwhelmingly voted by his fellow-players as the best outside-half in English rugby.

"People have enjoyed our rugby so much that when we played Bath last year there were nearly 6,000 at the ground, whereas when I started there were barely 200. I've settled in the area, I like the place and I want to continue what I've started."

Turner, who still has nearly a year of his existing contract to run, ascribes his problems to a personality clash with Bryan Wilkinson, Sale's chief executive. In the meantime the appointment of the ex-All Black John Mitchell, originally as Turner's assistant but now as his replacement, is in serious doubt.