Steve Diamond: Players came to me about alleged leak of information
Sale suspended wing Tom Arscott over an alleged leak of information to Bristol after his team-mates expressed concerns to the north west club's director of rugby Steve Diamond.
On Monday it emerged the Rugby Football Union was investigating a complaint made by Sale that related to "the passing of information to the opposition team" ahead of the Aviva Premiership clash with Bristol at the AJ Bell Stadium on New Year's Day, which the hosts lost 24-23.
A statement on the matter released on Tuesday by Bristol, who say they are "absolutely confident of no wrongdoing", confirmed their former player Arscott met his brother Luke, part of the current squad, at the team hotel on New Year's Eve.
But the Ashton Gate outfit insisted "nothing of any sporting value" was subsequently passed on to coaching staff.
When Diamond was questioned about the situation on Tuesday, he revealed Tom Arscott had been suspended since January 4.
"We investigated it internally and we are going through a disciplinary, and under the regulations, we have to report it (to the RFU), so we did that yesterday," Diamond said.
"It's now in the hands of the RFU."
When then asked how disruptive it had been for the rest of his squad, Diamond - whose side have lost their last 10 matches in all competitions - said: "The squad are galvanised.
"They came to me with the problem. I knew nothing about it. And I reacted to that - senior players coming to me.
"The squad picked it up, came and saw me, asked what should be done, and we had to go down this route."
While he declined to discuss the specifics of the case, Diamond said he had not come across anything like it in his time in rugby.
And he added: "I think if you do your own analysis, you probably don't need the information, because teams do the same most weeks.
"But in the same breath, I think there's an element of trust you need, and loyalty. And we'll see where that's at.
"I think when you sign a professional contract, team information is sacrosanct to the team's performance and that can't be discussed, certainly with opposition teams.
"I think that is the top and bottom of it.
"I think it's worded (in contracts), words to that effect, that the passing of information is forbidden."
Diamond, speaking at a media session ahead of Saturday's Champions Cup match against Scarlets, also said there was "no suggestion" from Sale that Bristol had asked one brother to get information from the other.
Reading out Bristol's statement on Tuesday at a press conference, footage of which was posted on their official Facebook page, head coach Mark Tainton said: ''From what we are aware, we are entirely comfortable that Bristol Rugby have done nothing wrong.
''Tom Arscott and Luke Arscott met on New Year's Eve at the team hotel, which is not unusual, for family living in different parts of the country to meet up.
''Following the conversation between the brothers, nothing was said or passed to the Bristol coaches of any sporting value, nor did it change the strategy in which we approached the game in any way, shape or form.
''As a club, we are entirely confident we have not acted in a way that is against the spirit and values of rugby."
Tainton added: ''Luke has carried on training and we believe he has done nothing wrong."
Bristol have vowed to "fully cooperate" with the investigation, although they said on Tuesday they were yet to hear from the RFU or Sale on the matter.
Neither Arscott brother played in the match, with Tom not included in Sale's 23-man squad and Luke an unused replacement in Bristol's.
The Arscott situation has come to light just a few days on from the RFU announcing Sale are being investigated over a possible breach of protocol in head injury management.
That relates to forward TJ Ioane completing the January 7 match against Harlequins despite appearing to show signs of concussion in the first half.
The RFU last week announced a concussion management review group panel would be examining the matter, with an update due this Friday.
And Diamond said: "We've just got to answer the questions they ask us, which we're confident of.
"We know our players better than anybody - our doctor and our physios do.
"We'd be well up there with HIA (head injury assessment) occurrences and looking after people.
"We're pretty sure all our ducks are in a row on it. I don't think it's too much to worry about if I'm being honest."