It's been 17 years since the North's premier rugby union team, Sale Sharks, lifted the Gallagher Premiership trophy for the first time.
On Saturday, the North and South will collide once again in an epic Sale vs. Saracens showdown at Twickenham. Sale Sharks has reported 10,000 northern voices will be heading down south to create a 'sea of blue' at rugby's national home.
The gravity of this game is not to be underestimated, winning would give rugby union in the north a major boost. “We've been waiting for a long time and it's massive... we will give everything," said Sale and England centre Manu Tuilagi.
A proud northerner with a passion for sport and brand, Ged has spearheaded the Morson Group's renowned sponsorship strategy. Supporting numerous clubs and sports people from Ricky Hatton, Antony Crolla and the PFL in addition to many other grassroots causes Ged, and the wider Morson Group, has helped hundreds of individuals realise their dreams.
Ged Mason, Sale Sharks co-owner:
"I recognised the potential of the Sale Sharks and their significance within the Northwest region, and I saw an opportunity to contribute to the growth of the sport and the wider community. From the players, the coaching staff, the physios, and the nutritionists to Sir Alex Ferguson who came down to Carrington to share some wise words and big-game experience, it's a true team effort on and off the pitch that got us here. And of course not forgetting the fans, such dedicated loyal support. I can't wait to be part of the sea of blue on Saturday."
Preparing for the big game: Morson CEO Ged Mason brings in Sir Alex Ferguson to deliver team talk gold
Sharks’ director of rugby, Alex Sanderson, praised Ferguson’s presence...
“We thought we’d try and wring a little bit of gold out of him and he didn’t disappoint. The lads were on the edge of their seats. When it comes from Sir Alex’s mouth, it’s gospel, isn’t it? … he said the right things. It’s good to have him in our corner.”
The shape of Saturday's team: with Alex Sanderson
The Saracens, who secured the top spot in the regular season and have become familiar faces at Twickenham, present a formidable opponent. Sanderson understands that victory against such a strong team will require a comprehensive strategy and exceptional performance from the Sharks.
To simulate the stadium atmosphere, they have trained on a slightly larger pitch than usual and incorporated loudspeakers to replicate the ambient crowd noise. Although they have taken measures to make the preparation as authentic as possible, Sanderson, acknowledges that the true pressure of the occasion cannot be replicated.