Sport George Kruis of Saracens tries to break through the Sale defence on Saturday

If someone had beamed down from Mars – or from rugby’s amateur era, which feels even more remote – for the Aviva Premiership leaders Saracens’ 24-19 win over Sale Sharks on Saturday how would they have judged the spectacle? An arena of wonderfully nuanced and contrasting players such as Saracens’ gliding fly-half Charlie Hodgson and cerebral lock Steve Borthwick? Or a base battlefield of mega-muscled gladiators battering each other Rollerball-style with casualties shipped off to hospital on motorised carts for the benefit of the paying public, television viewer and now – as we are told enthusiastically by competing broadcasters – broadband consumers?

George Kruis of Saracens tries to break through the Sale defence

Saracens 24 Sale 19 match report: Saracens bring Danny Cipriani’s full house down with second-half tries

Sarries remain top of the Aviva Premiership as they grind out victory against a valiant Sale side led by the former England fly-half

Dan Lydiate in action for Wales against Australia in the 2011 World Cup

Paul O'Connell and Dan Lydiate launch late charge for Lions selection

2009 captain and Welsh flanker return from injury desperate to impress coach Warren Gatland

Leicester thrash Sale at home

Leicester got their bid for a home Aviva Premiership play-off semi-final back on track by thrashing Sale 48-10 at Welford Road.

Hendre Fourie

Sale and England flanker Hendre Fourie forced to retire

The South Africa-born 33-year-old made eight senior appearances for England,

Jones bemoans Exiles’ missed opportunities

Worcester 13 London Welsh 6

David Tait: The forward was described as 'an absolute legend of a bloke' by Danny Care

Sale mourn loss of former forward David Tait

Rugby players, coaches and administrators were today mourning the loss of David Tait, the former Sale forward and Scotland seven-a-side international who fell to his death from an apartment block in Hong Kong. He was 25.

Sale’s Danny Cipriani kicked well against Toulon on Saturday

Cipriani finds hope for Sale in Mitchell's special experience

Sale's biggest crowd at the Salford City Stadium they moved into last summer witnessed a fifth loss in eight home matches but the Sharks' obdurate effort against the highly-paid, much-travelled Toulon spared them any hairdryer treatment from their new-old coach John Mitchell or the spectators.

Gloucester’s Freddie Burns (pictured) had his head coach, Nigel Davies, suggesting an England call-up was due after he put Danny Cipriani in the shade in the 29-3 home defeat of Sale.

Rugby round-up: Italy come within an ace of a shock

Australia came close to real embarrassment in Florence when they appeared to slip into coasting mode and ended up in a fight to cling on to a 22-19 victory over Italy.

Charlie Sharples can show this autumn he has an England future

Brian Smith: Stuart Lancaster will be looking to find more proven performers for England

Coach's view: England coach will want to emerge with a clear idea of who he can trust to deliver

Diamond delight at Sale’s first league win

The Sale chief executive, Steve Diamond praised his side’s resilience after they ignored the distraction of the club’s off-field difficulties to defeat London Irish 21-9 last night.

Newly promoted London Welsh could not possibly win a game without Gavin Henson performing like the world-beater he looked like being before his career disappeared down the celebrity plughole

Gavin Henson is finally fit and excited to make Exiles debut

Foremost among the many assumptions ahead of the start of this domestic campaign was that newly promoted London Welsh could not possibly win a game without Gavin Henson performing like the world-beater he looked like being before his career disappeared down the celebrity plughole. So much for assumption.

Drinks are on you: Olley Barkley's Bath team-mates say farewell

Premiership weekend team news

Bath v Sale (Today 2.15pm)

Gavin Henson is looking forward to a fresh start at the Kassam Stadium

Another 'final chance' for Gavin Henson as he prepares to lead Exiles to safety

Former reality TV star tells Chris Hewett he is relishing his return to rugby reality with London Welsh

The former England coach Brian Ashton is wanted by Sale

Sale keen for Brian Ashton to team up with Danny Cipriani

Sale, brimming with ambition ahead of the new Premiership season after making significant strides on and off the field, are hoping to tempt the former England coach Brian Ashton back into big-time rugby.

News
newsVideo for Yes campaign was meant to get women voting
News
A photo of Charles Belk being detained by police on Friday 22 August
news
News
i100'Geography can be tough'
Sport
Louis van Gaal looks dejected after Manchester United's 4-0 defeat by MK Dons on Tuesday night
sport
News
Actor, model and now record breaker: Jiff the Pomeranian
Video
News
Down time: an employee of Google uses the slide to get to the canteen
businessHow bosses are inventing unusual ways of making us work harder
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Career Services

Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?