Gloucester rugby boss Lance Bradley says the Premiership season will be finished on the pitch

Playing the rest of the Premiership season on the pitch is still a realistic prospect says Gloucester Rugby Chief Executive Officer Lance Bradley.

He believes no matter how long we have to wait for rugby to return, finishing the 2019/2020 campaign remains a priority and playing games behind closed doors is a reasonable solution.

Speaking to our sports reporter Cari Davies, Lance admitted that while he doesn't believe next season will be 'compromised' he can't see it being a 'perfectly normal one'.

  • Watch the full interview at the bottom of this page.

He says all Premiership league games can be played, both this season and next, but clubs will have to regularly use a bigger pool of players than they would usually.

"We will probably find that we use our whole squad more than we would have done. If we finish this season and then go into next season it's going to mean a fairly intensive run of games and you have to make sure that you manage that properly.

"You can't expect the same players to turn out every week on that kind of basis so we would be using more of our academy players than we would have done. I think everybody's prepared to make some compromises to get the best possible outcome we can, which is to finish this season and have a proper season next season."

Uncertainty is the biggest challenge for Premiership sides at the moment. Credit: PA Images

At the moment the biggest issue clubs face is a lack of certainty, it's a case of 'hoping for the best, but planning for the worst' as Lance puts it.

There are a number of scenarios being planned for but at the moment Premiership Rugby are suggesting a return to matches on the first weekend of July as a best case scenario. Clubs have been told that the league has had encouragement from the government that this may be possible.

This would mean players being back in training at the start of June, as World Rugby and Premiership Rugby require four weeks of contact training before a competitive match is played.

We all remain committed to finding a way to play, so long as we can do this safely, and with the welfare of players, staff and fans at the heart of every decision.

Darren Childs, Premiership Rugby

Gloucester was among the first of the Premiership clubs to announce it's players and staff were taking a 25% pay cut, Lance says the club is in a decent position financially because of the steps they have taken but they will have to be careful.

2019/20 season tickets have already been paid for and while many fans have expressed a wish to continue supporting the club where they can, Lance insists he's keen to help anyone who is struggling financially and doesn't feel able to pay for a product they are no longer getting.

Danny Cipriani during a match against Sale Sharks, dedicated to mental health awareness. Credit: PA Images

It's a difficult time for everyone, for professional athletes it can feel as though they've been stripped of their purpose. For fans, a sports club is their extended family, for some, attending games is the only regular social activity they take part in.

Mental health was brought into sharp focus at the club after the death of TV presenter Caroline Flack, an ex-girlfriend and close friend of Gloucester fly-half Danny Cipriani.

Gloucester's game against Sale Sharks in February was dedicated to raising awareness and funds for the local Samaritans branch.

'Be Kind' was a phrase adopted by the club in tribute to TV presenter Caroline Flack. Credit: PA Images

Lance says the club is keenly aware of how this lockdown may be affecting people's mental health and steps are being taken to try to alleviate the issue.

He adds: "Any professional sports club is an intense, highly stimulating atmosphere and then suddenly we're all at home. If you're a professional athlete that's quite tough. We've made sure we're staying in touch with the players, before the lockdown we gave them suggested programmes to keep themselves fit. I know that they're all talking to each other.

"We're trying to interact with fans as well, re-running classic matches, keeping people engaged and just trying to make sure people are okay. The players have been phoning some of our older fans, and that's good not just for the fans but for the players as well."

Lance also spoke about Gloucester's prop Jamal Ford-Robinson who recently won Premiership Rugby's 'Community Player of the Month' award for March.

Jamal has been lifting people's spirits by posting a host of amusing videos online, something Lance says is typical of his character,

Jamal's a brilliant guy to have around the camp at the best of times, this isn't something he's put on, this is what he is like. I'm not sure he really knows quite how big an impact he's having on people. To see Jamal's antics every couple of days really gives everybody a lift.

Lance Bradley, CEO Gloucester Rugby
Lance says he wants to foster a greater appreciation for rugby's impact on people. Credit: PA Images

Something Lance hopes he and others will gain from this crisis, is a greater appreciation for what rugby means to everyone involved - fans, players and staff. He says the club can take a more celebratory approach to all it does.

When it does come back we want to really make the most of it, make sure we really understand and appreciate what it means to people. Don't waste any time, this isn't a rehearsal.

Lance Bradley, CEO Gloucester Rugby

Watch the interview in full here: