‘Real desire’ to finish Premiership Rugby season, says Exeter Chiefs CEO

The CEO of Premiership Rugby table-toppers Exeter Chiefs says there is a ‘real desire’ to ensure the 2019/20 season is finished.

Tony Rowe OBE is confident that, despite the Sandy Park side not having played a competitive fixture since early March, a return to action is not far off.

His optimism comes after the Government and health bosses agreed elite combat and team sport can resume full-contact training for the first time since the Covid-19 outbreak.

Currently, all Premiership Rugby clubs have agreed no training will take place until early June.

However, once that deadline is reached it is now possible that clubs – including the Chiefs – could return to training and that the process of restarting top-flight fixtures can take place.

Exeter Rugby Club chief executive Mr Rowe said: “I don’t mind saying, last week I was pretty depressed as I couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.

“At that time, we were not sure when we could get back to training and what the future told.

“This announcement this week has changed things and now I’m more confident that we will return to playing again soon.

“As a club and as a sport, we have to see this as a positive.

“Of course, we will adhere to the advice of the Government and the various medical professionals, but as a club we have a real desire to finish this season.

“It’s the same for Premiership Rugby, they too want to finish this season and get clubs back playing again.”

Mr Rowe added that there has been a huge amount of work going on behind the scenes at Sandy Park to ensure the club is able to cope with the effects of the pandemic as best as possible.

“In 22 years of running the club, this year will be the first time that we have lost money,” he said.

“There are obvious reasons for this, of course, but we have had to work incredibly hard to help preserve the business as best we can.

“Because of the virus there will be a big fat hole in the accounts and that means we will have to find ways of addressing that moving forward.

“It’s not easy, particularly when you have no income coming in, but I’m confident that we have found a way to overcome the challenge currently.

“Looking at what is spelt out in this new government [white]paper, plus the way all of us have helped to lower infection rates and do what we have done over these past few weeks, we are starting to see things change and move in the right direction.

“A lot has happened in these past four months and a lot will change in the next four months, that is why I am a lot more optimistic about the future and about us getting back to playing rugby again.

“Having spoken with Rob [Baxter, the Chiefs’ director of rugby] we are both very encouraged by the announcement this week and we feel there is a very good chance that we can get back to some kind of normality in the not too distant future.”

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