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Danny Cipriani: Ex-Gloucester playmaker ‘may have fallen out of love with rugby’

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Danny Cipriani
Danny Cipriani played once for Gloucester this season, against Leicester Tigers, before departing

Danny Cipriani’s surprise exit from Gloucester appears to be down to the playmaker “falling out of love” with rugby union in the absence of crowds, says ex-England team-mate Chris Ashton.

Cipriani, 33, left the club last week, with two years left on his contract.

Ashton said the missing fans in stadiums because of Covid-19 restrictions looks to have impacted on the ex-England fly-half’s decision.

“He doesn’t have that buzz [without supporters],” Ashton said.

Speaking on BBC 5 Live’s Rugby Union podcast, the Harlequins winger said “entertaining” the masses is what Cipriani “plays for”.

“Right now, I don’t see that’s there for him,” Ashton added. “From the outside, it looks as though he’s fallen out of love with the game a little bit.”

England and Quins scrum-half Danny Care added that as “an entertainer”, Cipriani “needs that buzz”.

“We’ll miss him if it’s the last we see of him in the Premiership,” Care added.

‘A strong, massive character’

In his two and a half years at Kingsholm, Cipriani boosted Gloucester’s average points, tries and bonus-point tallies.

His mercurial talent earned him 16 England caps and a spell in Super Rugby with Australian club Melbourne Rebels. His career has also included two stints with Wasps and further Premiership experience at Sale and Gloucester, as well as several incidents of off-field indiscipline.

Cipriani himself previously admitted his “ego” may have hindered his international ambitions.

His personality, Care said, may also have contributed to the end of Cipriani’s time at Gloucester.

“He’s a strong, massive character in a changing room and, at times, I think he can divide opinion,” said Care, who played alongside Cipriani for England.

“Danny likes to do it his way, be the leader, almost the quarterback. You hear that a lot of their attention was spent on ‘Cips’ and not the team, as a coaching group.

“It seems Danny has done his bit at Gloucester, he’s helped their attack – their attack now is so good because his DNA is imprinted in that attack.

“That’ll be the unfortunate thing for the fans, that they won’t see him doing his thing in a Gloucester shirt again, but I hope we haven’t seen the last of Danny the rugby player.”

Ashton said Cipriani, who collected both the Premiership and Rugby Players Association Player of the Season awards in 2019, deserves greater adulation.

“He’s 33 years old, played for a long time, he’s always had this stigma about who or what is Danny Cipriani, which I don’t agree with,” Ashton added.

“He’s been an amazing player, done so much for English rugby and doesn’t get enough plaudits for what he’s contributed. I just think he’s looking for something different.”

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