Sale Shark Director of Rugby Steve Diamond has dismissed claims that players at the Covid hit club partied following their Premiership Cup win in late September.
Sale’s Sunday clash with the Warriors was called off after 16 of their players tested positive for coronavirus, but Premiership Rugby has announced that the game will now take place on Wednesday, subject to stringent retesting.
However, Northampton will not be given a second chance after withdrawing from their match against Gloucester due to all but two members of their front row having to self-isolate as a result of their match against Sale on Tuesday.
The decision to hand Gloucester a 20-0 win means Worcester are denied any realistic chance of qualifying for next season’s Champions Cup, which they could have achieved had they beaten a depleted Sale and Gloucester lost to Northampton.
In addition, Sale will go into the projected Wednesday fixture knowing exactly what they have to do to seal a play-off place.
The Telegraph reported overnight that players celebrated their win at Carrington training ground, but Diamond has poured cold water on the reports.
“Right the way through the process over the last six months [players have followed protocols]. It’s not a Premier Rugby protocol, it’s common sense.,” Diamond told BT Sport. “We’re living in unchartered waters with this illness.
“We’re not expecting people to go out and party. That doesn’t happen. People have to be respectful and responsible when they’re not in the training environment.
“One: There’s nowhere to go. Two: They’re very responsible and they wouldn’t do that.”
Asked directly by Ugo Monye to refute claims that players gone into Manchester city centre to party, and Diamond said: “Yeah [I can]. It hasn’t happened.”
Although the cancellation clearly comes within league regulations, charges of inconsistency could be levelled at the governing body, whose rugby director Phil Winstanley clearly stated upon the resumption of the season in July that “no [cancelled] games would be replayed.”
Northampton expressed “deep frustration” at being forced to forfeit through no fault of their own, adding that their request to register loan players in order to complete the fixture had been denied.
The club said in a statement: “As soon as we were aware of the situation, we asked for permission to register loan players beyond the normal deadline in order that we could attempt to complete the fixture.
“We were advised that this dispensation will not be granted. We therefore have no option to bring in additional players as cover.
“We are extremely disappointed that our season has ended this way; an outbreak of coronavirus at another Premiership club has left us with no viable option other than to forfeit our game.”
Northampton added that none of their players are currently symptomatic.
Premiership Rugby confirmed on Saturday that 21 people, including 18 players, tested positive for coronavirus in the latest round of testing. The positive tests affect three different clubs, and include the 16 players from Sale.
RugbyPass, additional reporting PA
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