Having so very nearly had their 2019/20 Gallagher Premiership final pairing of eventual champions Exeter and virus-hit Wasps scuppered, with Bristol at one stage on standby to replace the Coventry-based club, Premiership Rugby have recommenced their Covid-19 testing programme ahead of the new 2020/21 season. 

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Champions Exeter will kick off the new season at Harlequins on November 20 and while they are still on a break after winning the October 24 final at Twickenham, nine clubs were tested this week with 17 positive tests detected. 

It follows an initial round of testing at seven clubs last week which detected ten positive tests.  

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Thomas Waldrom gives an insight into the characters in the Exeter dressing room and explains the influence of Rob Baxter

A statement read: “Premiership Rugby can confirm that it has started its pre-season PCR Covid-19 screening programme ahead of the 2020/21 season with seven clubs taking part last week and nine this week. We expect all twelve clubs to take part next week.

“On October 26, 520 players and management from seven clubs were tested as part of the PCR Covid-19 screening programme. Of those who were tested ten people – from five different clubs – tested positive. Eight of those who tested positive were players and two were members of staff.

“On November 2, 718 players and management from nine clubs were tested as part of the PCR Covid-19 screening programme. Of those who were tested 17 people – from eight different clubs – tested positive. Eleven of those who tested positive were players and six were members of staff.

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“Those who tested positive and their close contacts are isolated and assessed in line with the PHE-agreed guidelines.

“Premiership Rugby and the RFU are providing this aggregated information for competition integrity and transparency for the second successive season. No specific details as to clubs or individuals will be provided under any circumstances. The number of positive results will be made public after each round of testing.”

While the Premiership is continuing with its testing programme, the costs associated with testing squads is believed to be one of the major stumbling blocks delaying the start of the 2020/21 Championship and fears are growing that the second tier season may be cancelled altogether. 

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