A brief history of the club
There's documented evidence of a game of 'football rugby' being played in Montpellier in 1895, but it wasn't until 1986 that the present club was formed when the Stade Montpellierain and Montpellier University clubs were merged.
They were in Group B of the French elite in 1988, rising to Group A five years later. After some internal strife, Montpellier suffered a double relegation in 1998 but by 2003 had captured the Pro D2 title and were playing under their present MHRC title.
In 2007, the Stade Yves du Manoir was transformed to its present iconic state in time for the World Cup. One long roof ripples above the stands and ends in one corner - it rather resembles a scarf. In the same year Fulgence Ouedraogo became the first Montpellier player to wear the French jersey.
A season later, Ouedraogo was joined in the national squad by Trinh-Duc, Tomas and Picamoles.
The arrival of coaches Fabien Galthie and Eric Bechu in 2009 signalled the start of the present surge of good form, with 2010 an historic landmark in the club's history when they met Toulouse in the French final. Qualification for last season's H.Cup (as it's known in France) was automatic, and they repeated the dose last season.
Montpellier travel to face Sale Sharks at Salford City Stadium during the weekend of January 11th, 12th & 13th, 2013.
We've met before
Sunday will be the fifth meeting of Sale and Montpellier teams. Back in 1997, European Challenge Cup pool matches were played en bloc during September and October. Sale FC lost 12-30 at the Stade Sabathe, Montpellier's former ground, but wreaked revenge to the tune of 43-3 at Heywood Road a fortnight later. Steve Diamond was a try scorer in France, along with Matt Moore. Shane Howarth added a conversion. Back in England, Moore was again over the try line, together with Adam Tetlow and Tom Beim. A penalty try was awarded to Sale. Howarth chipped in with 23 points.
During 2007-8, the sides met again in the same competition, but the schedule had changed to the current format. Sale Sharks posted an impressive 49-6 win at Edgeley Park in the pool opener, but the return at Sunday's stadium will long be remembered for Luke McAlister's late penalty attempt which appeared to pass over the top of a post and left the game drawn 14-all. The Sharks scored six tries in that huge victory, from Hanley, Hodgson, Wigglesworth (2), Chabal and Mayor. McAlister was on the mark in the January 2008 return, with three penalties and a first half 'added time' try.
Try for the legendary Steve Hanley against Montpellier at Edgeley Park in 2007
From the Stattos
Heineken Cup records
Montpellier Played 7, Won 1, Drawn 2, Lost 4. Top try scorer Yoan Audrin (1)
Sale Sharks Played 38, Won 18, Drawn 0, Lost 20. Top try scorer Mark Cueto (7)
Montpellier have lost just one of their last eight fixtures against English opponents: 13-16 at Bath on 20th November 2011.
Sale Sharks have won two of their last three matches against French Top 14 opponents.
Sale Sharks next home game in the Heineken Cup will be against Toulon on Saturday 8th December, kick off 3.40pm. Toulon - the club with Jonny Wilkinson, Andrew Sheridan, Juan-Martin Fernandez Lobbe, Bakkies Botha, Carl Hayman, Sebastien Bruno, Juan-Martin Fernandez Lobbe, the three Armitage brothers, Matt Giteau, Carl Hayman, Gareth Jenkins, Nick Kennedy, Frederic Michalak, Alexis Palisson and Simon Shaw in their squad.
Unmissable! Purchase tickets through the ticket office by calling 08444 994 994 or buy online through the Sale Sharks match ticket page.