"We have been so lucky to be able to keep playing through these past twelve months, it really has been a privilege, but there has always been something missing"
The front-rower and his Tigers team-mates played in front of almost 10,000 supporters under lights at Twickenham in the final of the European Challenge Cup, before coming-from-behind to claim a one-point victory over Worcester Warriors in front of 3,000 fans on Saturday afternoon.
Speaking at the club’s Oval Park training ground, as the side prepare for the final home fixture of the 2020/21 campaign, Youngs said: “It just feels right again, having a crowd there.”
“It was definitely a little bit strange running out at Twickenham to that level of noise after so long without it, but pretty immediately you are back doing what you love in front of fans and it’s just how it should be.
Looking back on more than 15 months without a crowd at Mattioli Woods Welford Road, Youngs was quick to acknowledge the ‘privileged’ position he and his fellow players have been in, but did admit something has been missing.
“We have been so lucky to be able to keep playing through these past twelve months, it really has been a privilege, but there has always been something missing with the stands empty around you,” he said.
“Tigers fans are the best travellers in English and European rugby and then at home games, I mean everybody knows what they bring to Mattioli Woods Welford Road … I don’t need to tell you about that.
“We have missed them and, these past few weeks, to be able to see those familiar faces again and hear the cheers for the lads, it makes a huge difference.
This weekend, Mattioli Woods Welford Road will welcome its first crowd since February 2020, almost 480 days, and the Tigers skipper says it will be a special day for each member of the squad.
“I cannot wait and I know it’s the same for everyone in the squad, it is going to be special,” said Youngs.
“For some of the younger lads and guys who joined us during the pandemic, it is going to be very special to have that experience for the first time.
“The weird part is just how loud it has felt with limited numbers in the stadiums in the past two weeks, so I can’t wait until it’s packed out again.”
Fans have shared their messages of support from the sofa during the period away from games, and shared many snaps in recent weeks from the stands since returning.
But, what does Youngs have to say to them ahead of meeting up once again on Saturday afternoon?
“Just enjoy it,” said the Tigers skipper, before adding: “We will be giving our all out there and hopefully they see that, hopefully they know we’re just as excited to have them back as they are to be back.”