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Can France rid themselves of the Twickenham hex?

France should win their first Six Nations match in England since 2005 – if they can overcome the fear factor

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'My nose is incredibly happy, I'm fed up having things stuck up it'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Newcastle boss Dean Richards has hailed the decision by Premiership Rugby to end with immediate effect the weekly routine covid testing of all players and staff that has been in existence since clubs in England first returned to training in the 2020 lockdown. 


Only players or staff with covid symptoms will now be tested, a decision arrived at on Wednesday following the confirmation by Professional Game board chief Chris Booy that the proportion of fully-vaccinated players and staff across the Premiership was currently 97 per cent, with 94 per cent in the Championship and 96 per cent in the Premier 15s.

“Personally, my nose is incredibly happy, to be honest with you. I’m fed up having things stuck up it on a regular basis, so I’ll probably be able to smell and taste things properly again,” quipped a relieved Richards to RugbyPass ahead of this Sunday’s Premiership home game for Newcastle against Exeter.  

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“There was a huge financial burden in all of that but more than anything you are looking at the welfare of players and staff and it seems obvious to everyone at this moment of time this omicron variant is nowhere near as deadly or as serious as any of the others.

“For those that are vaccinated it’s no worse than a heavy cold at the very worst and it only lasts a couple of days as well. It’s been a really good decision to make.”


At the height of the pandemic, a round of PCR testing was costing clubs like Newcastle a whopping sum of money. “The biggest cost to us was when we were having the PCR tests and that was costing us £8,000 a throw and the lateral flow tests are a fraction of that,” he explained. “Thank goodness the PCR went out earlier last year and we got onto the lateral flows, so it has been meandering its way to this stage for about eight months now and thank goodness we have reached this stage.”


Booy had said on Wednesday: “The Government are looking to take a phased approach to get back to ‘business as usual’, with review points and further changes as, and when, conditions allow. We believe that elite sport should adopt the same approach.”


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