Updated: Sunday, 12th July 2020 @ 9:02am

Sale Sharks' captain fantastic Josh Beaumont itching for Champions Cup opportunity

Sale Sharks' captain fantastic Josh Beaumont itching for Champions Cup opportunity

| By David Bates

Captaincy may bring added responsibility and pressure but Sale Sharks skipper Josh Beaumont claims he is relishing his new role.

Beaumont was named Sale captain over the summer following the retirement of Dan Braid and helped his side to an Aviva Premiership Rugby victory over Harlequins at the AJ Bell Stadium in his second game in charge.

The No.8 – son of World Rugby chairman and former England captain Bill – acknowledges that donning the armband is a challenge but believes it is one he is thriving on.

“I am enjoying the added responsibility of the captaincy, it is a challenge, but it is something I have done before and I am enjoying,” said Beaumont, speaking at the launch of this year’s Aviva Community Fund alongside team-mates Mike Phillips and Mike Hayley.

“It is tough when you lose but you have to rally the troops and get back out there.

“I have a lot of experience around me which helps. Guys that have played with me and that I have captained before.

“I am someone who likes to lead from the front and I let the senior players say a bit more if needed, I just want to lead the players well on the pitch.”

The Aviva Community Fund is a nationwide initiative that lends a helping hand to local communities by offering support and funding for local clubs, causes and projects.

It has already benefited over 320,000 people, through 431 winning projects across the UK, and this year, local grassroots sports clubs can apply or reapply for funding in a new, sport-specific category.

And Beaumont claims he wouldn’t be the player he is today without the formative experiences at his local club.

“For me especially, the grassroots mean a lot because I started out at Fylde RFC, that’s where my dad played his rugby and his dad played,” added Beaumont.

“I played there up until the age of 21 with my brother in the same first team. I went through the system at a grassroots club, my local club and played at Durham University too, I came the old fashioned route into rugby.

“For me it was a huge part of my development coming through the grassroots system.

“It shows that you don’t have to get picked up by an academy at a young age, you can still go down to your local club.

“The extra money coming into the club means that there might be better facilities to help develop more players.”

In addition to focusing on Aviva Premiership Rugby, last season’s sixth-place finish means Sale will also be playing European Champions Cup rugby this term.

And Beaumont admits he cannot wait to experience life at Europe’s top table, where Sharks will take on Saracens, Toulon and Scarlets in Pool 3.

“It is where all professional rugby players want to play, in that highest European competition,” said Beaumont.

“We have got a challenging group, but we are going to target those two games against Scarlets and then see how we go.

“You are showcasing yourself more in that tournament, it is bigger teams, bigger games and it is as close to international rugby as you can get really.

“You are playing against other top European clubs, other guys who play Six Nations and international rugby. Hopefully I can raise my own personal game to that standard. “

Premiership Rugby and the 12 Aviva Premiership Rugby Clubs are supporting the Aviva Community Fund, a nationwide initiative which offers funding of up to £25,000 to grassroots sports clubs and other community organisations close to your heart. Enter at aviva.co.uk/community-fund from September 13.