DARCY GRAHAM has admitted that he loathed playing in front of empty stands the last time supporters were barred from grounds, and believes that games without fans are “almost pointless”.
During the last lockdown, players and coaches alike talked of the need for teams to generate their own energy in matches when crowds were not there to create an atmosphere. Being an exceptionally energetic and dynamic player, the Edinburgh winger would have no problem in doing that again. Nonetheless, his heart sank when he learned on Wednesday that both 1872 Cup games between his own team and Glasgow will be played out without the fans.
“It’s huge having the support there,” Graham said. “That’s why we play rugby, so we can play in front of fans. I did not enjoy playing without any crowds: I hated it.
“It’s not the same – it’s almost pointless playing. So to have them taken away again is pretty disappointing.
“I thought we were past that stage and we’d overcome it, but obviously not. It’s very difficult times we’re in just now and I think everybody’s a bit fed up with it and just wants life to go back to normal. But for the time being it is what it is and we’re just going to have to get on with it.
“It’s been so long since we’ve had a derby game that people can come and watch. I think people were getting their hopes up and getting really excited about the up-and-coming games, especially given the form both teams have been in, beating Exeter and Saracens. Both teams are playing really good rugby and it was a chance to watch the top Scottish boys going head to head, so I think the fans will be really disappointed.”
Having said that, Graham insisted that Edinburgh would be just as eager to win the 1872 Cup this season – although he added that former coach Richard Cockerill had never shown much interest in the trophy. “For us, things don’t change,” he added. “We’ve still got a game on Monday and we have to prep well. We’re doing really well in the league and it’s another game we have to win.
“Cockers called it the gravy bowl! He was never that interested in winning it – he was more for the league [points], but it’s really nice to win. There’s a lot of history behind it and as a club we want to win it.”