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Sale now have 27 positive tests, match versus Worcester forfeited

(Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

Premiership Rugby have confirmed that it has cancelled Wednesday night’s Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Sale Sharks and Worcester Warriors. The round 22 match is awarded 20-0 to Worcester Warriors with the Warriors given five league points.

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On Tuesday, all Sale Sharks players and staff members in the testing pool were tested for Covid-19 as part of the Premiership Rugby weekly programme. On Wednesday, the results returned from the Randox testing laboratory confirming that an additional six players and two staff from Sale had tested positive for a Covid-19 ahead of the now-cancelled game with Worcester.   

All were immediately placed into isolation for ten days. This means that there are 27 positive tests at Sale in the last seven days and due to the size and severity of the outbreak, Premiership Rugby and Sale are in close contact with Public Health England.

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Premiership Rugby chief executive Darren Childs said: “I have spoken to Sale Sharks this morning and neither the club or Premiership Rugby will take risks with people’s health. Together we won’t compromise our commitment that matches will only happen if it is safe to do so, therefore the game is off. Today’s decision demonstrates that commitment.

“Our first thoughts are now with those at the club, both players and management, who have tested positive and we wish them a speedy recovery. We mustn’t forget we have a significant number of people at one of our clubs with Covid-19, and we will give the Sharks all the support they need.

“We know everyone at Sale will be devastated, and we share their disappointment that their season ends this way. But we can’t jeopardise the health of any players, staff or management at any of our clubs. This is why we took action at the weekend to prevent the match going ahead on its original date, and again today to cancel the game.

“We all love rugby and want it to thrive and grow but sport has to be put in perspective compared to the devastating effects of Covid-19. We aren’t prepared to take unnecessary risks with people’s health.

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“We stated there was no room in the calendar for matches to be postponed but last weekend the health of everyone involved took precedent to ensure the Sale squad could be tested again, following the initial positive tests. Those concerns were proved today when we saw an additional eight positive tests. People fight hard for points in Gallagher Premiership Rugby, and for a place in the semi-final but everyone agrees this has to take second place to people’s health and well-being.

“Covid-19 has created the biggest challenges rugby has ever faced, as it threatens the future of the game, but with this case resolved, it is now crucial we now look forward to two compelling Gallagher Premiership Rugby semi-finals on Saturday, which are followed by two of our clubs contesting European Finals the weekend after and our season ending on a high at Twickenham Stadium on October 24.”

As required under the professional game board’s minimum operating standards, Sale will now complete their contact tracing and will isolate any contacts (of those players who tested positive) for a period of 14 days. An independent audit, by the RFU, of the track and trace processes at Sale is also being undertaken. With Worcester now handed the points from the game with Sale, Bath have qualified for this weekend’s semi-finals.

The Gallagher Premiership Rugby semi-finals line-up is now:
Saturday, October 10
1.30pm: Wasps v Bristol Bristol Bears
4.30pm: Exeter Chiefs v Bath Rugby

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