Sale Sharks and the Sale Sharks Foundation marked the Armistice by welcoming more than 50 veterans and current serving military personnel to the Premiership clash with Gloucester, all thanks to club partner Printerland.
Free tickets were handed out to the veterans who were all part of the Foundation’s Sharks Forces programme, which supports former service personnel transition back into civilian life.
The current serving personnel came from units including the Royal Lancers, who showed off their array of weapons and kit to Sharks supporters outside the stadium ahead of the game.
Ahead of kick-off the soldiers paraded into the stadium and created a guard of honour to welcome the players to the pitch.
And the match ball for the Gallagher Premiership fixture, which Sharks won 27-17, was delivered to the centre spot by Trooper Will Hadden.
Sale Sharks Foundation Mental Wellbeing Manager Eddie Owen, who runs the Sharks Forces programme, said: “Moving from military to civilian life is a huge transition for all who have served in the armed forces.
“This often leads to a minority of service leavers facing a range of social and mental health-related problems. Sharks Forces is about helping to break down these barriers and help veterans live longer, happier lives.
“It was fantastic to welcome so many of the Sharks Forces participants and their families to the AJ Bell Stadium to mark the Armistice. It’s an important moment in the year for us all to focus on what these men and women sacrifice for us.”
The Sharks Forces programme was launched by the Sale Sharks Foundation in 2017 to help military veterans across the North West get back into work.
Run in partnership with the Royal British Legion, coaches work with around 100 veterans every year to help them develop the confidence and skills they need to find employment.
In addition to helping veterans get back into work, the Sharks Forces programme aims to help improve veterans’ physical and mental wellbeing, develop social activities and tackle social isolation.
Altrincham-based Printerland have been a long-standing partner of Sale Sharks having first agreed a deal back in 2004 to sponsor the Cheadle End of the club’s former home ground at Edgeley Park, before becoming official Family Stand sponsors at the AJ Bell Stadium in 2016.
More than 10,000 match-day tickets have been given away to local charities and schools in recent years by Printerland, allowing the Sale Sharks Foundation to introduce rugby to new audiences.