Seven players – one more than last week’s six – have tested positive for coronavirus in the latest round of across the league testing ahead of next month’s planned restart of the 2019/20 Gallagher Premiership season.

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A statement on the week two round of testing read: “Premiership Rugby can confirm that on Monday, July 13, 856 players and club staff were tested as part of the PCR Covid-19 screening programme. Of these, nine people have tested positive. Of those nine, seven were players and two non-playing staff.

“Players or club staff who have tested positive and their close contacts will now isolate and be assessed in line with the PHE-agreed guidelines.

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“Premiership Rugby and the RFU are providing this aggregated information for competition integrity and transparency. No specific details as to clubs or individuals will be provided. The number of positive results will be made public after each round of testing.”

Last week’s first round of testing produced ten positives for the virus after 804 players and staff undertook the test. That broke down into six players and four club staff members.

The positive tests were seen as a blow as the sport in England attempts to get back on the pitch for the Premiership restart, which commences on August 14 when Harlequins host Sale Sharks at The Stoop. Clubs have recently stepped up preparations, progressing in recent weeks to stage two of the return-to-play protocols which allows for close contact training for small groups and would include scrummaging work.

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The latest confirmation of test results brings to 19 the total number of players and staff who have tested positive for the virus. However, while this might be viewed as a setback among the wider public, Premiership Rugby CEO Darren Childs suggested after last week’s ten positives that it was no major problem. 

Childs believed last week that the number of positive tests for coronavirus were “in line with expectation”, claiming that Premiership Rugby had “put in one of the most rigorous testing regimes in elite sport and it has taken us some time”.

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