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New norm of second festive season

We're all prone to losing sense of space and time after months out of ‘normal’ routine, but it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.

Not literally the Christmas of Santa, snow and high street stress; more the festive feeling of anticipation, excitement and the hope for nice surprises as rugby gets ready to return.

More than 160 days since our last game – at Saracens if you’ve forgotten – we are finally getting ready to roll again.

Tigers begin with a trip to top-of-the-table Exeter Chiefs which is just about as far as you can get geographically and metaphorically, but the anticipation could not be greater.

These five months have seen major changes – in the boardroom, in the coaching team, in the playing squad and, of course, around matchdays which currently do not include the precious passion of the supporters.

In Tigers territory, we’ve had national lockdown followed by local lockdown, we’ve been socially distanced and emotionally remote. We’ve applauded the NHS, we’ve stayed at home and we’ve stayed alert. We’ve missed friends and family, we’ve cancelled holidays, we’ve somehow lived without haircuts, socialising and shopping. We’ve managed without a pre-match pint, or a pre-match at all.

There has also been tragedy and loss, and an impact on livelihoods that none of us has experienced before.

Words like ‘furlough’ and ‘unprecedented’ have become part of our every day and the term ‘new norm’ has emerged from nowhere.

Against this backdrop, rugby finally takes its first steps forward since mid-March.

Next weekend’s trip to Sandy Park remains out of bounds to fans, which is a huge disappointment but, if it helps keep us and others safe, then it is a sacrifice we can accept.

And it won’t dull the anticipation around a first matchday for so long either.

It’s what we’ve been waiting for – the team news, previews, punditry and selection decisions, plus the impatience of matchday morning. Sitting in 11th place in the table doesn’t temper the anticipation at all either. With the new faces and a new energy, the future starts here. Every journey begins with a single step.

Rugby is a small part of the big picture, but it’s the part we can start to focus on again next week. It is also an opportunity to satisfy our passion for the game, our club and the players representing it. The Tig cannot wait.

Go Tigers.