'Urgent review' launched after Sale's COVID-19 outbreak
UPDATE: Premiership Rugby confirmed that it is carrying out an urgent review ahead of Sunday’s final round of Premiership matches.
The final round of the English season is currently in disarray after news broke out on Friday that a significant amount of Sale Sharks players tested positive for COVID-19.
There are fears that the outbreak would result in Sale having to forfeit their match against Worcester Warriors, an outcome that would likely see the Sharks fall out of the top-four and fail to qualify for next weekend’s Premiership semifinals.
“Sale Sharks announced last night [Friday] that they had suffered ‘a number of positive COVID-19 tests’ this week, and we are aware there are also positive tests at other clubs,” said a statement from Premiership Rugby on Saturday.
Darren Childs, Chief Executive of Premiership Rugby said: “The health and well-being of our players and staff is our priority.
“More than 900 PCR COVID-19 screening tests were carried out on Thursday. On Friday we received the results, which was followed by a comprehensive Contact Tracing programme at our clubs, created by those positive tests.
“These results are being analysed with the help of Public Health England and the local health authorities involved. This will allow a decision to be made over the Sale Sharks v Worcester Warriors match, and any others that have been affected by positive results.
“We understand the stakes are very high this weekend, but we have a responsibility to everyone involved with Premiership Rugby to ensure a methodical process is followed, and this cannot be rushed.”
Despite the outbreak, Sale insisted their crucial Premiership game at home to Worcester on Sunday will go ahead.
However, in another statement, Worcester said the fixture “is still the subject of discussions between Premiership Rugby and public health officials”.
“The sole criterion for deciding whether a match can take place in the current unprecedented and worrying circumstances is the safety of officials and players and staff of both clubs and [minimising] the risk of anyone contracting and spreading this killer disease,” said a statement from Worcester.
“Warriors would always prefer the outcome of a match to be decided on the pitch and will do so provided we are satisfied that all the COVID-19 protocols and procedures have been followed and no health risk is posed to our players and staff.
“At the moment we are still awaiting confirmation that those protocols and procedures can be met to allow Sunday’s match to proceed as scheduled.”