Exeter boss Rob Baxter has reacted to the outbreak of Covid-19 inside the camp of Racing 92, the French club which the Chiefs are set to face in the Champions Cup final in Bristol on October 17.

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Nine as-yet-unnamed people at the French club were reported to have tested positive on Thursday following tests that were conducted on Wednesday. Those who tested positive are now in self-isolation while Racing’s Top 14 match this Saturday at La Rochelle has been postponed.

The development at Racing was a stark reminder as to how clubs must remain vigilant to keep their squads free of the virus and the outbreak in France came just days after Baxter had earlier this week called for the end to Covid-19 testing of players in the Premiership, outlining what he termed were “genuine medical reasons” not to continue with testing in English rugby’s top flight.

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“It’s something we’ll have to look at, but the reality is that it’s something we don’t want to think about too much,” said Exeter boss Baxter in reaction to the breaking news from Paris that will impact on Racing’s preparations for the Champions Cup final.

“It could be nine players well outside their first-team squad, or four of them could be members of staff and the others are training normally as a group. We are continually telling the players that it’s what they do away from the club that’s the most important thing.

“When you turn up to the club – and I know I have to be a little bit careful here – it’s virtually impossible to catch Covid in the facility because everyone here is being tested regularly. If someone tests positive they’re isolated immediately. Everyone is health checked and temperature checked every day.

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“The reality is that Covid only comes in if someone brings it in, so it’s what you do away from the facility that’s important and we’re constantly reminding the players of that. Because as we’ve seen, any little mishap can lead to a big problem.”

Following reports in the French media, Racing confirmed the outbreak in a statement. “Tests carried out on the entire professional group on Wednesday morning revealed several positive cases,” it read.

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