21 July 2020

Harlequins head coach Paul Gustard has asked Frank Lampard for advice about playing in empty stadiums

Harlequins head coach Paul Gustard has asked Chelsea manager Frank Lampard what it is like to play behind-closed-doors, ahead of Premiership rugby’s return next month.

The Blues have won seven of the nine games they have played since football returned and Gustard wants his Quins to get similar results to crack the top four. The club are currently in seventh position and are seven points behind fourth place.

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has given Gustard advice (PA)

Gustard said: "I wanted to know how his players responded. I wanted to know how they found playing in empty stadiums. I wanted to know, because the unknown can lead to uncertainty.

“These players will go into an environment which they probably have not experienced since they have been in school - where there is no crowd and no one there. That's what I've been speaking to Frank Lampard about.”

The unlikely pairing met last year as the Football Association asked Gustard to be a part of the coaching education at the governing body.

And while Lampard has given him advice, Gustard has said he will rely on some of his star players to keep the side competitive.

"What you want then is the people who are most intrinsically driven to compete. The likes of Mike Brown and Chris Robshaw have never shirked the ability to compete - those are the personality types you want when there is no one driving you from outside - mum, dad, girlfriend, mates, crowd.

"We train at Surrey Sports Park but we've lined up to go to The Stoop to basically train in an empty stadium: 15 v 15.

“Experience what it looks like and replicate match environments. If we can't get a friendly opposition then we'll go live against each other. Mirror the time and all the rest of it.”

Quins will play Sale Sharks in their first game back on August 14. Sharks are in good form this season as they sit in second place in the table.

While he credits Robshaw for his competitive edge, the former England captain will be leaving the club after this season to go and play for San Diego in the US.

He’s not the only player looking to leave as winger Gabriel Ibitoye wants a move to France. Gustard added there’s contractual issues why Ibitoye’s departure hasn’t happened yet.

“We have 45 players at the club, give or take, including the academy lads... there's always things that go on at a club. Obviously there's a contractual issue with him and the club and that's something we're working with.”

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