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?

JOHN KIRWAN: The former All Black wing has coached Italy and Japan at the World Cup

Kirwan and Lam on Sale's coach hitlist

Bryan Redpath, the Gloucester head coach who has been heavily linked with an imminent move to Sale, will find his every move monitored when the two clubs meet at Kingsholm this weekend for a squabble over Heineken Cup qualification. He is not, however, the only name in the frame for the vacancy in the north-west. Two New Zealanders with rich World Cup experience, John Kirwan and Pat Lam, are on the interview list, as is Eddie O'Sullivan, the former Ireland coach who worked with the United States last year.

Cipriani, here playing for the Melbourne Rebels, is good enough to play for England again, at fly-half with Owen Farrell wearing the No 12 jersey

David Flatman: Welcome back, Danny boy wonder – now get your head down and play

From the Front Row: Cipriani does not have to wear a mask and pretend he is someone else

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