He has been replaced by Craig Maxwell-Keys

Wayne Barnes out of Premiership final

Craig Maxwell-Keys will referee the Gallagher Premiership final between Exeter and Wasps on Saturday after Wayne Barnes – who was in line to officiate the showpiece– tested positive for coronavirus.

The experienced ref revealed the news of his failed test on Thursday night, via Twitter.

With so many other officials involved with Test matches this weekend, it means Maxwell-Keys, 30, will now be in charge of his first-ever major final.

Related: Referee appointments for Six Nations 2020

The assistant referees who will work alongside Maxwell-Keys are still to be confirmed, however we do know that Rowan Kitt will be the television match official while Danae Zamboulis will be the first woman to act as the citing officer in a Premiership final.

Barnes is not the only one to miss out on the final because of the virus. Wasps revealed this week that 11 of their players are unavailable.

Wasps Head Coach, Lee Blackett, said: “If we are all being honest, it hasn’t been ideal preparation, but I have to give credit to the players because they have coped with it admirably.

Wayne Barnes out of Premiership final

Now in charge: Match Referee Craig Maxwell-Keys (Getty Images)

“A lot of credit must also go to the staff, especially team manager Dave Bassett, head of medical Ali James and club doctor Ralph Mitchell. The amount of work that they have put in behind the scenes to allow us to play in this game is phenomenal.

“It has been a difficult week in terms of all of that, but the one thing that we spoke about at the start of the season is being adaptable. Now the players will do everything they can to put in a performance on Saturday. We know it will be tough, Exeter deservedly finished top of the league this season, but we are confident with the form that we can take into the game.”

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