Trying times with 33 positive tests across ten Premiership rugby clubs

Trying times for Premiership rugby with 33 positive tests across ten clubs while Worcester v Harlequins and London Irish v Northampton games are called off

  • The first game to be called off was Harlequins’ match against Worcester
  • Later on Wednesday, London Irish had to cancel their game with Northampton
  • In testing, 24 players and nine support staff returned positive Covid-19 tests  

The Premiership slipped into further chaos on Wednesday night as two fixtures were cancelled and 33 people across the league tested positive for Covid-19.

Harlequins’ match against Worcester on New Year’s Day was the first to be called off, before London Irish had to forfeit their game against Northampton.

Four out of 30 Premiership games have now been cancelled this season, while Europe’s Champions Cup tournament was also hit hard in the early rounds.

Harlequins coach Paul Gustard was unable to field a team with a shortage of front-row options

In the latest round of club testing, 24 players and nine support staff — across 10 clubs — returned positive results.

Harlequins coach Paul Gustard was unable to field a team due to a shortage of front-row options, after one player tested positive and six were subsequently forced to self-isolate.

A Quins statement confirmed that the player tested positive after the Boxing Day defeat by Bristol: ‘In accordance with PHE guidelines, the seven players will now go into a 10-day isolation period.

‘Harlequins has taken a further measure of standing players down from training for a week to contain any further transmission and to minimise the use and possible contamination of the training facility, such is the need to protect the health and wellbeing of players and staff.’

London Irish returned multiple positive tests and, despite still being able to field a team, were forced to forfeit due to Public Health England guidelines.

Irish director of rugby Declan Kidney said: ‘It is a huge disappointment for everyone connected to the club that we’re unable to go ahead with the fixture. We’re disappointed because we feel we still had a strong group of players to select from, but due to Public Health England guidelines, we’ve been told we’re not allowed to play the game.

‘It is clear that the entire country, especially here in London which is the epicentre of the virus, is at a critical juncture with this current phase of the pandemic. 

Northampton’s upcoming game with London Irish has also been called off due to Covid-19

‘Of course it is frustrating, but the health and safety of the players, staff, supporters — and public at large — is our priority at this time, as the country continues to navigate its way through the pandemic.’

Bristol’s match against Newcastle on Friday afternoon is on, but the Bears have their entire set of front-rowers from the Quins game — Yann Thomas, Will Capon, John Afoa, Bryan Byrne, Jake Woolmore and Max Lahiff — isolating after one tested positive. Vitally, Bristol only started training this week after their Monday testing session.

‘Following six months of testing, we’ve had our first positive test for a player, a front-rower,’ said boss Pat Lam. 

‘We isolated straight away the front-rowers from the game on the weekend, so they haven’t been seen since the Harlequins game, despite them being negative. We have been able to train since Tuesday and are good to go for Friday.’

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