Next Sunday’s Gallagher Premiership match between London Irish and Northampton has been cancelled, the fixture following the planned Worcester versus Harlequins New Year’s day clash onto the scrapheap on a day when league officials confirmed 33 positives tests from ten clubs across the twelve team tournament. 

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Two round four matches were cancelled last weekend, the games that were to feature Newcastle against Leicester and the meeting of Bath versus London Irish. 

Now two round five games have fallen by the wayside, three other different teams from last weekend having problems similar to London Irish who have fallen victim to the virus for the second successive weekend.  

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Ex-England hooker Brian Moore in conversation with Jim Hamilton

A Premiership statement released on Wednesday night read; “Premiership Rugby can confirm that London Irish’s Gallagher Premiership Rugby match against Northampton Saints, scheduled for Sunday, has been called off.

“London Irish returned a number of positive tests in the latest round of PCR testing and have players unavailable due to the contact tracing protocols. Therefore in consultation with Public Health England, the match has been called off and the London Irish training ground closed, with the next round of testing on Monday.”

A Premiership Rugby spokesperson added: “Our priority is the health and safety of those who have tested positive and we will be giving London Irish all the support they need. We wish those who have tested positive a speedy and safe recovery.

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“Neither Premiership Rugby nor the club will be naming any of the players or staff involved and we’d ask everyone to respect their privacy.”

The other four other matches in round five will go ahead as scheduled after Premiership Rugby confirmed the results of this week’s PCR Covid-19 screening programme: 951 players and management from all twelve clubs were tested on Monday as part of the screening programme and 33 people – from ten clubs – tested positive.

Twenty-four of those who tested positive were players and nine were members of staff. Those who tested positive and their close contacts are now isolated and being assessed in line with the PHE-agreed guidelines.

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