Danny Care fears his family might not see him play live again after the government postponed the return of fans to sports events.
The 33-year-old is nearing the end of his sparkling career and Boris Johnson ’s admission that there could be empty stadiums for the next six months has the England scrum-half deeply concerned.
Care said: “The thought has crossed my mind that I might not play in front of a full house again.
“I joked a while ago with my mum and dad, who have watched me throughout my whole career, that they might not ever see me play again. It’s not so funny now.
“I’m a glass-half-full type of person and I’m telling myself some sort of common sense will prevail and they will let fans in sooner rather than later.
“I just hope I’m right because some rugby clubs I think are genuinely in trouble. And I’m talking Premiership clubs. That’s scary. The stark reality I think is that big clubs could be no more. I’m sure club owners are really panicking.”
Saracens boss Mark McCall agreed: “It doesn’t take a genius to guess that if England don’t get crowds during the autumn and the Premiership don’t start having crowds before Christmas, it’s going to be a really worrying time. It’s very serious.”
Care’s frustration is heightened by the fact his club Harlequins staged a successful ‘pilot’ game in front of 3,500 fans earlier this month.
“Quins put on a brilliant event, proved it can be done and can be done safely,” he said. “To hear this news now is so deflating for everyone.
“Let’s be honest it’s awful playing with no fans. It doesn’t feel like a proper game. We played a cup final on Monday night in front of no-one. You’ve got to try and find a way of getting yourself motivated.
“Of course you can do it, but there’s so many times you need to draw on the crowd, especially in big games. I can’t imagine what internationals are going to be like in November if there’s no-one there.”
Care insists players “totally understand” that safety has to be put first.
“Obviously we want to play in front of fans,” he said. “But no player is silly enough to say just let 80,000 into Twickenham. We’re not saying that.
“However, people live for the weekend, whether their sport is football, cricket or rugby.
“If it can be shown that you can do it safely, you’d hope we’d be able to, you’d hope there’d be some common sense applied.
“Let’s do it, let’s help save rugby – because the bleakness of the current situation is that it could be really dark for a few clubs.”