Exeter boss Rob Baxter feels that an argument for continued Covid-19 testing at Gallagher Premiership clubs will fade “pretty quickly”.


Players and staff at all 12 Premiership clubs have been subjected to regular tests since early July, while the league season restarted on August 14 following a five-month break because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Baxter, whose team are through to the Heineken Champions Cup final and Gallagher Premiership play-offs next month, has stressed a need for continued vigilance.

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But he also feels that “genuine medical reasons” are looming not to continue with testing in English rugby union’s top flight.

“Hopefully, things progress very quickly and hopefully maybe it will be a matter of weeks where testing is deemed unnecessary,” Baxter said.

“The reality is, when you look at the number of tests being made and how few cases are being picked up, I don’t think we are far off genuine medical reasons not to continue with the testing.

“I think most clubs would be in agreement that what is being picked up and the actual transfer rates, even around players who are testing positive, are so, so small that I think the argument for continued testing will die away pretty quickly.


“There are a lot of reasons for it.

“It would save a fortune, it would free up a block of testing for other people, and the transmissions rates within the club because of the hygiene levels that are there and the age-range of the players, positive tests are not leading to mass outbreaks. You would think they would.

“If you are testing once a week, we are not picking up the player the minute he becomes positive. We are picking them up at some period at which the virus has been in their system, and yet they are mingling through the week.

“Hopefully, we are moving to a different rugby environment in a matter of weeks.”


Exeter are chasing a domestic and European trophy double, having arrived at the business end of the season in prime form and pristine shape.

And Covid-19 awareness will continue to be relayed to Chiefs’ squad and staff as big knockout games edge closer.

Baxter added: “I am probably no different to any other director of rugby in what I am saying to our lads.

“The latest news is that there are Covid spikes in around universities and campuses.

“In the last couple of weeks, the lads have been told to be extra-vigilant. You don’t want to be pulled in the week of a semi-final or final because of a failed Covid test.

“On the whole, we do feel the lads are being very good. They appear to be vigilant and are keeping very high standards.

“You have to keep throwing the reminders out there because the reality of Covid is that rugby players aren’t going to be ill or suffer more than cold symptoms.

“I know it is all confidential, but, of the players I know who have had it or had it during lockdown, none of them have been ill.

“There is a reality that you have got to not let your individual circumstance mean that you relax a bit and fail a Covid test. Regardless of how you feel or whether you have a temperature, it does stop you playing.

“It would be criminal now to allow your standards to slip or to make that one mistake that means you failed a test and you are unavailable for the biggest game of the season.”

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