Premiership: Cancelled season would be 'frustrating', says Umaga

By Mantej MannBBC Sport
Jacob Umaga in England kit
Jacob Umaga was part of the England training squad for the 2020 Six Nations but did not win a cap

Wasps' Jacob Umaga says cancelling the Premiership season would be "frustrating", but that the coronavirus pandemic is "a lot bigger than us".

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) ended the season for all levels below the top-flight on Friday, and with the Premiership in doubt, Umaga says the situation is "tough".

"Rugby is just our job," the 21-year-old fly-half told BBC Sport.

"We can only follow what the government and the RFU say."

Wasps are fifth in the Premiership table, two points outside the top four.

If the season was ended, Umaga says "it would be frustrating as we were just on a good turn of form, but it's a lot bigger than us".

The Coventry-based team has not played since 7 March, when Umaga produced an impressive try-scoring performance in the 39-22 win over Gloucester, and the club have since taken the decision to cut their players' salary by 25%.

But Umaga, who is the son of hard-hitting former Samoan international Mike and the nephew of New Zealand stalwart Tana, says he is just focused on "keeping fit and playing board games" with the season on hold.

"It's tough for a lot of people whose life is rugby," he said.

"To have a break that not many players have experienced before is tough, and finding something else to do with their time will have been challenging."

Keeping spirits high

One way Umaga and his teammates have been filling their time is with the club's #makethatcall movement, which sees players ring up fans in isolation to simply have a chat and offer their support.

Umaga says the club's "great initiative" is a way of "keeping in contact with friends and loved ones".

"We thought it would be great to reach out to people, who could be a bit vulnerable or on their own, and keep spirits high at times like these," he said.

"I made a call to Paul, who I have known for 10 years. He suffers with functional neurological disorder and he has followed my career. As a collective, it is just to try and keep in contact with as many people as possible."

Other top-flight clubs are now following suit, including Leicester Tigers and Gloucester, while Wasps Netball players are also checking in on fans.

He added: "No one really knows what is going on at the moment and the idea is spreading throughout the Premiership with lots of other clubs doing similar things."

'I got added to a Whatsapp group... I thought it was a hoax'

Umaga was playing on loan for Yorkshire Carnegie last term, but the youngster has since enjoyed a breakthrough season at the Ricoh Arena.

His notable performances at fly-half resulted in his first call-up for England's Six Nations squad in January, something he initially thought was a "hoax".

"I was just making dinner and I got added to a WhatsApp group chat with the rest of the squad," he said.

"I thought it was a hoax but one of my mates in the group messaged me to congratulate me."

Asked if it was surprise, he said: "Absolutely, it was pure shock.

"I had no idea it was coming, this is my first season as a full-time player."

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