WARRIORS chief Alan Solomons has urged his side to ‘get on with it’ after his side resumed their Gallagher Premiership campaign at a deserted Sixways.
Games in English rugby’s top flight will remain behind closed doors for the foreseeable future because of the ongoing Coronavirus crisis and Warriors marked their return to action with a 44-15 reverse to Gloucester on Saturday (August 15).
Speaking ahead of Friday’s trip to the Ricoh to face Wasps (kick off 7.45pm) Solomons admitted the empty stands was strange.
“Fans are a very important part of the game, especially your home support so it almost completely negates home advantage,” he said.
“It is very strange playing in front of empty stands. It’s not ideal but what’s the alternative? These are exceptional circumstances and we just have to get on with it.”
Melani Nanai’s sending off proved decisive and costly as rugby returned to Sixways after an absence of more than five months and in a surreal atmosphere.
Nanai was shown a red card after only 18 minutes for a no-arms tackle on Jonny May which left Warriors to play more than three-quarters of the match with 14 men.
He later apologised to May and his Warriors team-mates on Twitter for the tackle and Solomons admitted the red card swung the game in the visitors favour.
“Until Melani went off there was very little in it and the sides looked pretty even. But playing for over 60 minutes with 14 men when you haven’t played for five months does make it very difficult,” he said.
The Wasps clash kicks off three games in nine days for Warriors as Premiership chiefs seek a swift conclusion to the delayed 2019/20 season. Warriors will play eight games between now and October 4 safe in the knowledge they cannot be relegated from the top flight because of Saracens demotion for financial irregularities.
“It’s like having a pre-season. We have a new coaching staff who only came into the club at the start of July. This period gives them the chance to work with and observe the whole squad and I think that will be of huge benefit as we build for the 2020/21 season,” Solomons said.
“But the schedule is the consequence of the Coronavirus pandemic. There is an appetite to complete the 2019/20 season and the benefit of that is that all of our young players are going to get opportunities to play. That is going to be hugely beneficial to us in the long term.