New doubt over final round of Prem Rugby matches

Sale’s critical Gallagher Premiership clash with Worcester on Sunday remains in doubt after a number of Sharks players tested positive for coronavirus

Last Updated: 03/10/20 1:07pm

Sale, Gloucester and Northampton have missed Saturday’s 12pm team news deadline for the final round of Gallagher Premiership fixtures, putting the final weekend of the season into further doubt.

Premiership Rugby is carrying out an “urgent review” ahead of Sunday’s final round of games following 16 positive coronavirus cases at Sale Sharks.

Sale’s critical Premiership clash with Worcester remains in doubt, despite the club releasing a statement on Friday stating they were “confident the fixture can be fulfilled safely in accordance with all COVID-19 guidelines”.

But Worcester later said the fixture “is still the subject of discussions with Premiership Rugby and public health officials”.

Sale are currently in fourth position and were one of four clubs chasing the final three play-off places.

Sale's final game of the season "is still the subject of discussions with Premiership Rugby and public health officials", according to Worcester

Sale's final game of the season "is still the subject of discussions with Premiership Rugby and public health officials", according to Worcester

Sale’s final game of the season “is still the subject of discussions with Premiership Rugby and public health officials”, according to Worcester

In a statement on Saturday, Darren Childs, chief executive of Premiership Rugby, said: “The health and well-being of our players and staff is our priority.

“More than 900 PCR COVID-19 screening tests were carried out on Thursday. On Friday we received the results, which was followed by a comprehensive Contact Tracing programme at our clubs, created by those positive tests.

“These results are being analysed with the help of Public Health England and the local health authorities involved. This will allow a decision to be made over the Sale Sharks v Worcester Warriors match, and any others that have been affected by positive results.

“We understand the stakes are very high this weekend but we have a responsibility to everyone involved with Premiership Rugby to ensure a methodical process is followed, and this cannot be rushed.”

If Sale were to forfeit Sunday's game, they would be awarded a 0-20 loss and potentially miss out on a play-off spot

If Sale were to forfeit Sunday's game, they would be awarded a 0-20 loss and potentially miss out on a play-off spot

If Sale were to forfeit Sunday’s game, they would be awarded a 0-20 loss and potentially miss out on a play-off spot

Title-favourites Exeter are already through to next week’s semi-finals, but Sale, along with Wasps, Bath and Bristol, also have eyes on the prize.

The fallout could potentially still affect Northampton’s trip to Gloucester, after Saints played Sale at Franklin’s Gardens on Tuesday evening.

The unavailability of a number of Sale players means the Premiership’s smallest squad of just 32 senior professionals has been stretched ahead of their game with Warriors.

Sale could yet summon reinforcements from their academy and can still make emergency signings to fill their matchday 23 at the AJ Bell Stadium.