Feb 26, 2016
In focus - Hodgson on poignant return to former club
"Without doubt, he will be considered one of the greatest players to ever play for Sale Sharks."
Former Sale Sharks Chief Executive Mick Hogan words to describe Charlie Hodgson do not do the man justice. Not only is he a Sale hero but he has become a Premiership legend and a true national rugby treasure.
The 35-year-old draws to a close a 16-year career at the top end of professional rugby this summer. It is an end of an era for all rugby fans but fans of the two clubs he represented – Sale and Saracens – will feel the hurt the most.
This Saturday the former England fly-half will lead Saracens out as captain and head back to the club he called home for 11 years for the final time in a rugby playing capacity. “I’m looking forward to it, for me it’s always nice to be back at Sale, and to go back to my old club,” Hodgson told Saracens.com.
“Everything about the place was great. The opportunity to move to Saracens was too great for me to turn down. I had a brilliant 11 years there so no complaints.”
His name is still revered around the north-west. Not surprising as this is the player who in 228 games scored 2558 pts – 1753 points in the league. He brought the club its first and only league title in 2006 and was voted the club’s player of the year in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
Hodgson was born in Halifax and attended Bradford Grammar School, where the under 12s compete for Charlie Hodgson Cup. He was, and still is, a rugby league fan (“I enjoy watching the differences between the two sports”) but was introduced to union at Old Brodleians.
Since his professional debut in 2000 against Auch, Hodgson has displayed skill, guile and bravery against not just the best and fiercest rugby players in this country but in Europe and the rest of the world. His body has suffered its fair share of troubles, most notably injuries to his knee cruciate and his shoulder, but ever the fierce competitor has always come back for more.
He cites another Sale legend as the best player he has ever played. “I spent a lot of time watching Jason Robinson in league and playing with him was unbelievable. He could make something out of nothing. It was incredible. He was pretty special.”
He will leave the game as the leading Premiership points scorer of all time with 2,585 so far. As well as the points accumulated at Sale he has added 715 in 86 appearances for Saracens including 11 tries. He added to his league title success last season by guiding Sarries to victory over Bath at Twickenham.
“I don’t have a favourite league title,” he said. “The first time you do it the whole day just flies by and before you know it, the day’s gone.
“Last year, I wanted to make sure I cherish each moment because I know it doesn’t last very long. They were both special.”
Upon retirement he will join the Saracens backroom staff and become the Head of Recruitment and Talent Identification. “It will be a great challenge form me working with Mark (McCall) and helping the squad move forward. It’ll be about researching players and potential signings so it’s exciting and one I’m looking forward to.”
The move from Sale to Saracens was undoubtedly a difficult decision for him but did he achieve everything he wanted to?
“We won the league and a couple of second tier European competitions so we did all right but anywhere you go you want to achieve more.
“It’s the nature of playing sport. You want to win and you want to win trophies, in one sense we achieved what we wanted to by winning the Premiership but at the same time would’ve been nice to win it more times.”
Well Charlie you still have time.