Next Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership match between Northampton and Leicester at Franklin’s Gardens has been cancelled after Saints returned a number of positive tests and had further players unavailable for selection following the contact tracing process.
Fears for the East Midlands derby first emerged on Tuesday when Northampton admitted there were issues within their squad. That has now led to the match cancellation and the closure of the Saints training ground until next Monday, the next scheduled day for testing.
The players involved in the situation have already begun a ten-day isolation period in accordance with the guidelines set out by Public Health England.
“We are incredibly disappointed and frustrated that we are unable to proceed with such an important fixture for the club,” said director of rugby Chris Boyd. “The East Midlands derby is a day that Saints supporters will have circled in their calendar months in advance.
“It’s a game entrenched in history and one our players particularly relish being a part of. It’s also a big blow to have back-to-back matches cancelled, as we had hoped to pick up some momentum again following an important win on Boxing Day.
? “We were confident that we have more than enough of our squad still healthy and available to play if required.
“But while this is a bitter pill to swallow, the health and safety of the players, staff and families of everyone at both Saints and Tigers is of course paramount.” pic.twitter.com/Sa2hpbEyO6
— Northampton Saints ? (@SaintsRugby) January 6, 2021
“The club has been absolutely rigorous in how we have followed the protocols laid out for us and despite returning a number of positive tests this week, we were confident that we have more than enough of our squad still healthy and available to play the game if required.
“However, we are following the advice we have been given, which was not to play the game and to close our training facility until next week. While this is a bitter pill to swallow, the health and safety of the players, staff and families of everyone at both Saints and Tigers is of course paramount.”
This is the second consecutive match Northampton have seen cancelled due to Covid-19, with positive tests at London Irish also seeing last weekend’s fixture called off with Saints awarded a win and four league points and Irish a loss and two league points.
Under Premierships regulations, a panel will now be convened to determine the allocation of points from the cancelled Northampton versus Leicester game. A Premiership Rugby spokesperson said: “The health and safety of players, management, staff and match officials is our priority.
“We wish those who have tested positive at Saints a speedy and safe recovery. 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.”
"That one gets me slightly."https://t.co/a6TW8V1JB5
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) December 31, 2020
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