Covid-19 outbreak throws Premiership in disarray
SPOTLIGHT: The final round of the Premiership season has been thrown into chaos after an outbreak of COVID-19 amongst the players at Sale Sharks
According to the DailyMail, Sale Sharks’ crunch game against Worcester Warriors could be cancelled after a ‘double-figure number’ of positive tests at the club.
Four teams – Bath, Wasps, Sale Sharks and Bristol Bears – are battling to fill the three remaining qualification places behind the already-qualified Exeter Chiefs.
Should Sale Sharks be forced to forfeit the match, it would result in an automatic 0-20 loss and hand fifth-place Bristol Bears a shot at the play-offs.
A forfeit would guarantee Wasps and Bath a semi-final place, with Bristol Bears requiring only one point in their trip to London Irish.
Meanwhile, a source, who knows of a number of players who have been told they can’t play on Sunday, told RugbyPass: “There is an outbreak at a top-four club that will seriously impact on the last round of games.”
All those teams featured in midweek Premiership action, but it has since emerged in France that there was a COVID outbreak at Racing with their entire playing squad and staff placed in isolation after nine people tested positive for the virus.
Ahead of the Sunday’s fixture, the Premiership Rugby released a statement on Friday regarding the team announcement: “Following the recent set of midweek matches, we have decided to postpone all team announcements for Premiership Rugby round 22 until noon on Saturday.”
Saracens vs Bath, Wasps vs Exeter, Sale vs Worcester and London Irish vs Bristol are the matches that will have a final say in the top-four race in England.
A huge number of cases at a club could lead to a match being forfeited, which would be a disaster given the effort that went into getting the Premiership restarted.
While three Top 14 matches have been called off in France in recent weeks, including two this coming weekend, officials in England have managed to successfully hold eight rounds of fixtures since the 2019/20 season started, something that Sale boss Steve Diamond commended the league for.
Asked on Thursday by RugbyPass to reflect on how the league had fared since the restart in managing the effects of the pandemic, Diamond said: “All credit has to go, certainly in our league, to Premier Rugby. All the games have been completed apart from this last round… they have done a great job, the league, in getting it on. All the protocols we are going through and everything, it’s been a peculiar time.
“It will be remembered for all of us who have been through this as one of those years where for the next 20, 30 years we will be talking about, do you remember the Covid for all the wrong reasons? Fortunately, I have not had anybody close to me who has been poorly with it but you can see what’s happening around the country and the rate of infections going up. We have to keep doing this [precautions] until it’s right to stop it.”
Source: DailyMail & Rugbypass