First of all, it's good to be back. The annual Premiership Sevens competition is in my mind, as good a point as any to welcome readers back to domestic rugby and to the 2015-16 season.
Depending on who you ask, the annual preseason Premiership Sevens competition is either an exhilarating warmup that showcases the most exciting elements of our beloved game to get fans eagerly anticipating the official start of the new Premiership season, or conversley, is nothing more than a gimmick designed to placate and extract more money from fans, delirious from the monotony of a rugby-less summer. Whilst Newcastle Falcons' fielding of seemingly the entire Scottish International Sevens team did little to help the notion that the Premiership Sevens is a gimmick competition, I am personally of the viewpoint that the Sevens is a fun way to pass a weekend in August and does serve a practical purpose as it allows less experienced players and academy graduates to gain valuable gametime and make their case for inclusion in their club's first team proper.
Nonetheless with Sale having not made the tournament's final round/day since they hosted their pool at Edgeley Park back in the 2012 competition, and their chosen squad for Saturday's matinee comprising an inexperienced, ragtag group of individuals with little previous Sevens experience that encompassed first team players, recent graduates from the Sharks academy, a number of Sale Jets and a couple of guest/trial players imported from the actual Sevens circuit, expectations for Sale were admittedly low in a pool that featured teams such as Newcastle and Worcester, who actually take the Sevens seriously.
However despite at times being faced with seemingly insurmountable odds, Sale's representatives for the afternoon somehow fought - occasionally literally - their way to a surprise second place in Pool D, recording a win, a last-second draw and a loss, to secure a berth in next Friday's quarter-finals where they will match up against Newport Gwent Dragons.
I won't recount the events of Saturday afternoon blow-by-blow as I'm working on the assumption that most of the people reading this are aware of the manner in which Sale snuck their way into next week's Final round, and as much as I do enjoy watching Sevens rugby, regardless of how Sale fare on Friday, it will have very little effect on Sale's actual 2015-16 season. So instead of focusing on this weekend, I'll instead look beyond that to the fifteen-man game and see what we can takeaway from Sale's performance on Saturday in relation to the return of domestic rugby union.
You there! Please do consider following @SharkTankRugby on Twitter for more opinions, news and analysis on all things Sale Sharks. I might even start doing gifs at some point.