Covid-19 havoc in Gallagher Premiership
Covid-19 has changed the way we live and the way we absorb the sport we love. This season has been by no way straight forward. The world is a very different place now as it was when the first ball was kicked in round one. However, it hasn’t got in the way of 21 rounds of competitive and meaningful rugby in the Gallagher premiership. The numerous months gap in the season and the absence of fans aside, the season has been relatively unaffected. Fixtures have maintained excitement and the standard of rugby has remained high. Covid-19 havoc in the Gallagher Premiership is going to take place at the final hurdle.
Round 22 though, is shaping up to be quite the swansong for what has been the strangest season of them all. With the season nearly all done and dusted there are still some outcomes that need to be decided after the Sunday 3pm kick-offs. There is still something to play for, for a number of teams. Sale Sharks are pushing to keep their top 4 spot with Bristol Bears breathing heavily down their neck.
Sale Sharks testing positive
Steve Diamonds team however has had a number of positive Covid-19 tests, putting their fixture against Worcester under scrutiny, Premiership Rugby has made the decision to cancel the game on Sunday and postpone until Wednesday. This is subject to a number of factors;
- ‘An additional round of testing to be completed at Sale on Tuesday 6th It is essential that tests are clear for any player taking part in the game… ‘
- Sale Sharks and Worcester Warriors will not register any new players with the RFU prior to the rescheduled game
- An independent audit of the track and trace processes at Sale is undertaken over the next few days before the game is played.
Once these steps have been taken, Premiership Rugby will make a further announcement.
However, this poses a real question for the rest of the league. The round 22 fixtures traditionally all kick off at the same time to allow for fairness in any areas where there is still something to play for. This postponement could change the way Sale play completely. Their interest on Sunday will firmly be focussed on Ashton gate. If Bristol gets a bonus-point win, Sale knows what to do on Wednesday. Go all-out attack and get that bonus point win themselves. If Bristol loses, they can rest their players and not put out a competitive team as the outcome is already decided.
The hurdles needing to be negotiated around playing on Wednesday aside, this could provide Steve Diamond a strategical advantage that is supposedly deliberately avoided with the same time kick-offs on Sundays. It then also begs the question, the Northampton Saints game has also been canceled.
The Northampton game though won’t be getting a postponement, they will forfeit their match. This will be a harsh blow to the Saints side, devoid of confidence as it is. The chance to try and end a dismal end of season on a high has been robbed because another team has positive tests and they are required to self-isolate as a result. Handing Gloucester a 20-0 victory and 5 points.
Not the finish to our season we’d hoped for and not the one you guys deserve.
Thank you for your incredible support this season.
We’ll be back 🖤💚💛 pic.twitter.com/IjhtuudAh5
— Northampton Saints 😇 (@SaintsRugby) October 3, 2020
Despite Northampton requesting permission to loan players to fill the gaps in their playing squad, this has been refused. Perhaps that is why number two on the above list for Sale to take the field on Wednesday is there? There does seem to be a degree of unfairness in the ruling, Sale Sharks are the reason Northampton can’t play. However, Sale will be able to play themselves despite it is their players that have the virus.
This will provide plenty of opportunity for debate, and if there is a controversial outcome come Wednesday it almost certainly won’t be the last we hear about this. However, ultimately, the safety and health of the players and their families is probably the priority here. For some though, it will be a bitter pill to swallow.
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