Yorkshire Carnegie signing Tom Arscott feared he was “damaged” goods and might never play professionally again after his abrupt sacking by Sale.
It says much about the winger cum full-back’s standing in the game that only a month after Sale showed him the door for leaking tactical information to his brother Luke on the eve of their game with Bristol, the Devonian has found himself a new club.
The 29-year-old managed to beat the transfer deadline by a week, otherwise he faced the prospect of a spell out of the game, in the short-term or for good, with only a small property portfolio to fall back on.
Supported throughout the tough times by the Rugby Players’ Association and the vast majority of Sale fans – he had only two negative tweets – Arscott is now looking forward to the next chapter in a career that has taken him progressively north, from Plymouth to Bristol and Worcester and then on to Sale.
“It is good to be involved with a team that is ambitious and to be back playing again, because, at one stage, I did think that that might be it,” Arscott exclusively told TRP.
“The way Sale portrayed things from the off and how it was dealt with so publicly, I felt was very damaging to my personal reputation.
“To effectively lose my job and to have to move home and everything else because of such a small comment (about a new lineout move) to my brother, on New Year’s Eve, kind of turned my world upside down.
“It has been very stressful and it’s not something that I’d like to go through again, or put my family through. Something very minor has affected a lot of people.
“To have to find a new club with this cloud of doubt hanging over me until I could give my side of the story, was really difficult.”
Arscott joins an enclave of ex-Sharks players at Headingley such as Dean Schofield, Joe Ford and Andy Forsyth, while Bryan Redpath was head coach when he signed for Sale.
“I think it shows a bit about my character that a club where people have played with me and coached me before have given me this contract. They know I’m not the type of person who’d do the things that I’ve been accused of.”
Arscott added: “The investigation by the RFU and Sale concluded that I shouldn’t have said what I did, hence they were within their rights to sack me, but I think everybody can see there was never any malicious intent on my part nor was it a calculated move by me to get back in the team. That’s just far-fetched and ridiculous.”
True to form, his new Carnegie team-mates have given Arscott some ice-breaking banter and thrown a few nicknames his way.
“That’s only good to be honest, if you didn’t have that you wouldn’t feel part of the squad. I’ve been made to feel really welcome by the lads. I’m a big believer that things happen for a reason, and we’ll just have to see what the reason is.”
A fairytale ending with promotion, perhaps?
Arscott has mixed experiences of Championship play-off finals. He lost the inaugural one with Bristol but was on the winning side against them when Worcester bounced straight back.
At present, Carnegie are a way off from being realistic Premiership contenders. Last Saturday’s capitulation at home to Cornish Pirates exposed a few fault lines that had been lurking under the surface for a while.
Arscott added: “I was at the game and the lads said it wasn’t the best performance. There was just a lack of proper execution on the final pass at times.
“I’ve had experience on both sides of the coin when it comes to the play-offs, and hopefully that will help once it comes down to the crunch.”