Former Sharks captain to hang up boots at end of season
The 32-year-old has played more than 150 games for Sale since his debut in 2017
Ross agreed early release from contract to return to Africa with family
Former Sale Sharks captain and fans favourite Jono Ross will call time on his rugby career at the end of the 2022-23 Gallagher Premiership season.
The 32-year-old, who joined Sale in 2017 and has played more than 150 games for the club, has agreed an early release from his contract in order to return to Africa with his young family.
After signing for Sale from Stade Francais, Jono established himself as a firm favourite amongst the Sharks faithful through sheer endeavour, grit and determination for success on the pitch.
He was subsequently awarded the club captaincy in 2018, thanks to his natural leadership capabilities, holding the position for five seasons.
Speaking ahead of his retirement, Jono reflected on his time at Sale as the most impactful of his career, but admitted the time was right to hang up his boots and return home.
He said: “Since joining the club in 2017, Sale and Manchester have really become a home away from home for my family and I. We have absolutely loved our time at the club and living in Manchester. Both our children will have been born here so it will forever have a special place in our hearts.
“I would like to thank Simon, Michelle, Ged and Sid for their support over the years as well as the coaches at the club for putting up with me and giving me the opportunity to play the game I love in a great environment. To all of the backroom staff, physios, strength and conditioning coaches, kit men, chefs and everyone else, a huge thank you for the time and effort you’ve put into me.
“To the Sharks fans, thank you for the support over my six years here. You are all fantastic. Please keep behind the lads as you really do make a resounding difference on the pitch. It’s been a great ride and I will miss running out at the AJ Bell but at some point your body tells you when it’s time to stop, and for me that time is now.
“I am hugely excited for what’s to come next, but you can be sure I’ll be watching the boys continue to grow from afar. Hopefully in the sun with a beer in hand!”
After rising through the ranks as a youngster at the Lions alongside Faf de Klerk and Akker van der Merwe, Ross started his senior career with the Blue Bulls in 2011. He had a brief stint in Europe with Saracens at the end of that season before returning to Pretoria for another year.
In 2014, Jono left the Bulls and moved North to take up a contract with Stade Francais. He spent three years in the French capital where he would go on to win the European Challenge Cup and Top 14 in the famous pink jersey.
Following his success in Paris, Ross made a switch to the UK where he would establish himself as one of the most imposing players in the Gallagher Premiership, topping the Premiership tackle count for three consecutive seasons as a Shark.
Sharks Director of Rugby Alex Sanderson was full of praise for one of the Gallagher Premiership’s fiercest-ever competitors.
He said: “It’s been a pleasure to work with Jono and during his time at the club, he has epitomised everything Sale Sharks stand for both on and off the pitch.
“When you get to know Jono, you realise he is a very clever bloke. Despite the levels of physicality he offers on the pitch, he’s more than just muscle. His tactical knowledge of the game is second to none and his emotional intelligence sets him apart as a player which is why he has been our captain for five consecutive seasons.
“Throughout his time at the club, Jono has used those skills to communicate on behalf of the players, often to the detriment of himself. If I’m being honest, it hasn’t all been plain sailing. We’ve had some deep and heated conversations but through mutual respect have always worked things out. I’m grateful for all those moments, both good and bad, as it’s helped me develop into a better coach over the past few seasons.
“Despite his serious demeanour, Jono always has a joke up his sleeve and is one of the nicest and most respectful guys in the game. He will be sorely missed by everyone at the Sharks. We wish him the very best for the future.”