Club legend Cliff announces retirement and testimonial year

Scrum-half Will Cliff to hang up his boots at the end of the 22/23 season
The 34-year-old has played more than 200 games for Sale since his debut in 2007
‘Cliffy’ will mark his retirement with a testimonial year

Sharks scrum-half Will Cliff has confirmed that he will retire from professional rugby at the end of the current Premiership season.

The 34-year-old fans’ favourite, who played his junior rugby at Sandbach, made his Sharks debut in 2007 and has played more than 200 games for the club.

And that service to his childhood club will be marked and celebrated with a testimonial year, which kicks off with a special match at the CorpAcq Stadium on June 24 between a team made up of Cliffy’s Sharks Legends and a Premiership Legends XV.

The year-long calendar of events will raise money for three charities close to Will’s heart: the Sale Sharks Foundation, The Joshua Tree and Project Restart.

After rising through the age groups at Sandbach, Will played for Macclesfield, Manchester RUFC and attended Myerscough College before being handed a professional contract at the age of 18.

He made his first team debut in 2007 against Bath in the EDF Cup at Edgeley Park and went on to play 113 times for the club before joining Bristol ahead of the 2015/16 season.

After two years in the South West, Will rejoined Sharks in 2017 and went on to make a further 120 appearances before making the decision to retire.

Will said: “It feels like the right time to be hanging up my boots. It’s daunting and emotional because this is all I’ve done since I left school, but I’ve had a brilliant career and there’s nothing I’d change.

“It’s been so special to play so many times for my childhood club. I can remember watching Sale at Edgeley Park with my dad as child and I don’t think I ever dreamed I would get to pull on the shirt once, let alone play so many times.

“I’ve made friends for life and I’ve got memories that will last a lifetime, from both on and off the pitch. The best memories are from big wins against some of the best teams in Europe, and games when maybe relegation was on the line and we’ve all pulled together and won.

“It’s meant everything to play for Sale and after 16 years it’s going to be difficult to take my nametag off my locker. There’s lot about this lifestyle and this club that I’ll miss but I can’t wait to come back and watch the boys and I’m really excited about what’s coming next for me and for the club.”

Injury has restricted his appearances this season but Sharks Director of Rugby Alex Sanderson says ‘Cliffy’ has remained a big character in the dressing room.

He said: “Cliffy is one of the longest-serving and most loved Sale Sharks players ever and we’ve had a few good players here. He’s epitomised everything good about this club in the last 16 years and he’s loved by players, staff and fans alike.

“When you get to know him, you realise that he’s not just the pulse of this place on the field, but he’s at the heart of everything off it too, and there is going to be a huge void to fill when he does hang up his boots.

“The testimonial year is a really important way of everyone saying thank you to Cliffy for everything he’s done, not just for the club but for rugby in this region.”

For more information about Will Cliff’s testimonial year, visit www.cliffy9.com.

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