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Three more Wasps players have tested positive for Covid-19, taking the total in the last five days to seven, but a decision on whether the club will take part in Saturday’s Premiership final against Exeter has been put back to Wednesday when the results of another round of testing are known.
Bristol, who won the European Challenge Cup on Friday, would take the place of Wasps. They will resume training on Tuesday ahead of the decision on who will provide the opposition to Exeter, who are in pursuit of the double after winning the European Champions Cup on Saturday.
“Following an additional round of Covid-19 testing on Saturday, Wasps can confirm four more members of the playing department have tested positive,” said the club in a statement which followed Friday’s announcement that four players and three members of staff had recorded positive tests and that training had been suspended.
“Those concerned are now self-isolating, as are their close contacts. After consultation with the medical leads at Premiership Rugby, the Rugby Football Union and Public Health England, the club will continue not to train at this stage. A decision on whether the club will play in Saturday’s final will be made following the results of a further set of testing to be undertaken on Tuesday.”
Bristol will resume training on Tuesday, when they will be tested, and players will not be joining up with the England and Wales squads. Asked if it was ideal that a team which had been knocked out of the tournament could win it, the Bears’ director of rugby Pat Lam replied: “No, but nothing about Covid is ideal. You have to adjust and adapt. Wasps and Exeter should be contesting this final, but with cases of the virus rising throughout the country, so does the possibility of someone stepping in. If needed, we will be ready.”
Bristol would step up because they finished third in the table following the decision to cancel Sale’s final game at home to Worcester after the Sharks recorded 27 positive tests in less than a week. Premiership Rugby has yet to say what it would take for Wasps to be pulled from the final, but it is likely to be an inability to name a representative 23.
Only one of the four players who tested positive last week has been involved with the first-team squad this season, and then marginally. Wasps would not comment on whether any of this week’s three players were in contention for Twickenham.
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Twickenham received a rare lift in the most challenging year out has faced financially when O2 signed a five-year deal to be the shirt sponsor for the men’s and women’s England teams.
“Our new agreement brings investment parity from O2 to England Men and England Women,” said the company’s chief executive, Nina Bibby. “There has never been a more important time to get behind rugby, a sport we have loved and have invested in for more than 25 years. We want to make sure the sport emerges from the pandemic stronger than ever before.”
The Welsh Rugby Union has also been feeling the effects of the virus but will not suffer when Wales goes into lockdown at the end of the week for 17 days, a period which takes in the postponed Six Nations match against Scotland which will be played in Llanelli on October 31.
The Welsh government said that sportspeople who earned their livings through sport would be allowed to continue working. It means the four Welsh regions are able to fulfil their fixtures in the PRO14.
Clubs have also taken a battering, not least Leicester whose multi-million pound losses this year generated first by the lockdown and then by no fans being permitted to watch matches prompted the club to seek the naming rights to their ground which will be known as Mattioli Woods Welford Road for at least the next five years.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Wasps stung by four more positives as Bristol on standby for Premiership final | Wasps