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Jack Nowell vents frustration at crowd limit on Premiership Rugby showpiece

Jack Nowell has blasted the treatment of rugby after Saturday’s Premiership Final had its gate cut to 10,000.

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More than double that watched England’s footballers beat the Czech Republic at Wembley – a figure that will rise to 60,000 for the later stages of Euro 2020.

Wimbledon will have more fans around one of its courts at next month’s tennis championships, with Centre Court permitted capacity crowds for the finals.

Yet Twickenham must leave 72,000 seats empty for Saturday’s clash between champions Exeter and local side Harlequins – and Nowell can’t understand why the sport has not kicked up a fuss about it.

Chiefs’ England star said: “I think we’ve just sat back and taken it, to be honest. It’s not just the Chiefs and Quins boys who are annoyed, it’s rugby fans in general.

Exeter beat Wasps behind closed doors in last year’s Premiership Final at Twickenham

“It just doesn’t make sense to me. If everyone was doing it, fair enough, you’ve got to be safe.

“But the fact there are other events going on (with bigger crowds) who seem to be getting on fine, there’s absolutely no reason for us not to be doing it.”

Premiership Rugby told Mirror Sport last week that they felt “let down” by the decision, yet the Rugby Football Union has not said a word on the subject.

Nowell is tackled by Wasps' Jack Willis during last season's final
Nowell is tackled by Wasps’ Jack Willis during last season’s final

“I don’t know who’s making the decisions,” added Nowell, whose Exeter side won the Premiership-European Cup double behind closed doors last season.

“At the end of the day, we’re outdoors and Twickenham is an 82,000-seater stadium.

“From a players’ point of view and the team’s point of view, we’re just gutted that we can’t have a lot more people watching it.”

Unhappy: Exeter Chiefs boss Rob Baxter
Unhappy: Exeter Chiefs boss Rob Baxter

Chiefs boss Rob Baxter echoed his fullback’s frustration, saying: “I don’t think anyone involved in rugby isn’t shaking their head. Why rugby has been singled out, I don’t know.

“It is obviously frustrating, because there are literally thousands of supporters who would have gone who aren’t going to be able to go.”

Wales flanker Justin Tipuric has come into the British and Irish Lions side to play Japan on Saturday after Scotland’s Hamish Watson was ruled out by a training-ground concussion.

British and Irish Lions: Williams; Adams, Henshaw, Aki, Van der Merwe; Biggar, Murray; Sutherland, Owens, Fagerson, Henderson, AW Jones (capt), Beirne, Tipuric, Conan

Replacements: George, W Jones, Furlong, Lawes, Faletau, Price, Farrell, A Watson.


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