Positive tests for Covid have disrupted the final round of the Gallagher Premiership, with Sale's crucial game with Worcester delayed until Wednesday
Sale v Worcester postponed, Gloucester v Northampton cancelled
Following “a number of positive COVID-19 tests”, Premiership Rugby has decided to postpone the Sale Sharks v Worcester Warriors fixture until Wednesday 7 October. They do so under Premiership Regulation 4.1 (c). In addition, the game between Gloucester and Northampton Saints has been cancelled outright.
On the Sale-Worcester decision, Premiership Rugby say it was made after consultation with Sale, Worcester and Public Health England. There have also been positive tests at other clubs. However, there will be a number of measures before the game can go ahead.
1. An additional round of testing to be completed at Sale on Tuesday 6 October. Premiership Rugby say “It is essential that tests are clear for any player taking part in the game and that PHE is satisfied with the results.”
2. Sale Sharks and Worcester Warriors cannot register any new players with the RFU prior to the rescheduled game.
3. An independent audit of the track and trace processes at Sale will be undertaken over the next few days before the game is played.
Premiership Regulation 4.1 (c) states: “All matches shall be played on the dates scheduled in the published Fixture List save (i) where both clubs agree to rearrange a fixture and PRL has given its written approval or (ii) where PRL decides to rearrange a fixture. Before making any decision, PRL shall notify the RFU’s Professional Rugby Director and keep the RFU’s Professional Rugby Director informed of all issues relating to or arising from the decision. Such decision shall be binding on the Clubs, PRL and the RFU.”
Sale’s match with Worcester is highly significant because the Sharks are chasing their first league play-off place since 2006. A bonus-point win will effectively secure a semi-final spot.
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The Gloucester-Saints cancellation was settled on after Northampton informed Premiership Rugby on Friday that they had insufficient front-row players to start the match. The situation was created as a result of the positive Covid-19 tests at Sale – they and Saints played each other last Tuesday evening.
Following the completion of the Track and Trace Audit, a number of the Saints playing squad are now self-isolating, in accordance with Public Health England guidance.
Saints have not been allowed special dispensation to register loan players. They are disappointed they had to call off the fixture.
Saints CEO Mark Darbon said: “We are extremely disappointed that our season has ended this way; an outbreak of coronavirus at another Premiership club has left us with no viable option other than to forfeit our game.”
In accordance with Premiership Rugby regulations, the match has been awarded as a 20-0 victory to Gloucester, with Gloucester awarded five league points and Northampton zero.
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