Last minute shock for Wasps as Dragons players test positive for COVID-19
Head Coach Lee Blackett is not happy at all with European rugby bosses after Wasps were kept in the dark about the Dragons’ two positive corona-virus tests until shortly before kick-off.
The European Champions Cup fixture at Rodney Parade went ahead despite the home side having to withdraw six players from their match-day squad.
A pair of Dragons players reported symptoms on Thursday and tests came back positive on Friday, leading to four more individuals being pulled out because they came into close contact with them.
Wasps, who had their own corona-virus outbreak ahead of their Premiership final defeat to Exeter, took to the field in Newport and ran in four tries in a 24-8 win.
“You’ve got to give a lot of credit to our players. We found out about this at 2pm, which amazes me when they found out at 10pm last night,” said Blackett.
“No-one from European (Professional Club) Rugby bothered to tell us until 2pm, but for our guys to mentally get their heads back on and come away with the result was really pleasing.
“We are all human and when we got the news at 2pm, we had traveled down with a normal squad and a couple of reserves.
“We spoke to the players about it and they were happy to play, but it was a distraction.
“The players were so professional in the way that they conducted themselves and I’d like to think they weren’t about it going onto the field.”
On the possibility of Wasps deciding not to play at Rodney Parade, Blackett says it was the squad themselves that wanted to take to the field.
“You put it to the players and ask them,” he said. “Our medical guys are top class and they asked all the right questions and we believed that everything had been done correctly.
“That was the main thing, giving the players the confidence that they weren’t going to catch Covid out there.
“If anyone wanted to pull out they could because we are not going to put anyone’s health, or health of their family, at risk for a game of rugby. We asked the questions and all the boys wanted to rip into it.”
Blackett couldn’t field a full-strength side in their narrow Twickenham loss to the Chiefs in the 2019/20 finale, so had both sympathy and praise for the hosts.
“I know how tough it will have been for Dean (Ryan) and everyone at the Dragons to turn out a performance,” he said.
“I thought that they played really well and we were under massive pressure. With 15 minutes to go the game was in the balance and could have gone either way.”
Source: South Wales Argus