Northampton boss Chris Boyd is chuffed with the way the Saints have embraced the regulations surrounding Gallagher Premiership Covid-19 protocols but one stipulation continues to flummox the New Zealander – the necessity of having two buses to ferry his players to an away match.  

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The Saints were supposed to be on the road again next weekend, the schedule taking them to London Irish on Sunday before the game was cancelled on Wednesday due to Covid concerns in the Irish camp that carried over from last weekend’s cancellation against Bath. Northampton had some issues themselves: they were minus one unnamed player who tested positive for Covid-19 this week and two of his close contacts.  

Before the cancellation, Boyd stated he was satisfied with how Northampton had dealt with the challenge of playing rugby in a pandemic, but how they travel to these away matches was something he was struggling to still fully get his head around all these months on from the Premiership’s first return to action last August following the lockdown.

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Ex-England hooker Brian Moore in conversation with Jim Hamilton

“Everything we do is dictated to by government guidelines,” he explained. “All our requirements here haven’t changed. It’s a bit of a military operation. You have got red stickers and green stickers where you are allowed to walk and arrows where you are allowed to go this way and not that way. 

“Our operations manager here is tough on sticking to stuff. Guys are constantly wearing masks, there are sanitising stations all over the place. One of the things you miss as a team is just the social cohesion, the chairs in the lounge and stuff like that, they have all been removed. 

“Nothing is going to change because we have been over-cautious anyway. We have had to shift out of our meeting room because we couldn’t socially distance… we are now in an area under a stand and the width of the guys trying to listen to the meeting might be 30 or 40 metres because they are two metres apart. 

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“It is very difficult but we haven’t taken our eye off the ball in that. All the guidelines that are laid down have been adhered to. If the government lays down different guidelines we will adhere to those. 

“Certainly all the away games we have gone to, we have travelled in two coaches. That one gets me slightly. We are in a bubble and we have all been tested, yet we have got to travel in two coaches – but you hop on an aeroplane to go to a European fixture… it’s a little bit different but we will do what we need to do.”

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