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Northampton Saints returned a number of positive coronavirus tests in latest round of PCR testing, leading to the cancellation of Saturday’s East Midlands derby against Leicester Tigers; Exeter Chiefs also confirm positive tests

Last Updated: 06/01/21 12:01pm

Northampton were due to play Leicester at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday

Northampton were due to play Leicester at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday

Northampton’s Premiership game with Leicester has been cancelled after Saints returned a number of positive tests for coronavirus.

The latest round of PCR testing on Monday uncovered the cases, with further players unavailable for selection due to contract tracing.

After consultation with Public Health England, Saturday’s East Midlands derby was cancelled and Northampton have also halted training until the next round of testing on January 11.

Northampton’s previous match against London Irish was called off due to positive cases in the Exiles camp, with Saints awarded a win and four league points.

Under Premiership Rugby (PRL) regulations, a panel will now be convened to determine the allocation of points, but the Tigers can realistically expect to be awarded four points and Saints two, with a 0-0 scoreline declared.

Chris Boyd (left) underlined the club’s sense of frustration that another game had been cancelled

Chris Boyd (left) underlined the club’s sense of frustration that another game had been cancelled

Chris Boyd, Northampton’s director of rugby, said: “The club has been absolutely rigorous in how we have followed the protocols laid out for us, and despite returning a number of positive tests this week, we were confident that we have more than enough of our squad still healthy and available to play the game if required.

“However, we are following the advice we have been given, which was not to play the game and to close our training facility until next week.

“While this is a bitter pill to swallow, the health and safety of the players, staff and families of everyone at both Saints and Tigers is of course paramount.”

A Premiership Rugby spokesperson added: “The health and safety of players, management, staff and match officials is our priority.

“We wish those who have tested positive at Saints a speedy and safe recovery.

“Neither Premiership Rugby nor the club will be naming any of the players or staff involved and we’d ask everyone to respect their privacy.”

Last week PRL reported its highest number of positive cases since testing began in July.

A total of 951 players and management from the 12 top-flight clubs were tested with 33 people from 10 teams returning positives, 24 of them players and nine members of staff.

Positive coronavirus cases in Exeter camp

Exeter Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter

Exeter Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter

Exeter have had positive coronavirus tests in the camp ahead of this weekend’s game with Bristol Bears, Chiefs’ director of rugby Rob Baxter has revealed.

Baxter said there had been “a slight impact on the availability of players but not huge”.

Table-toppers and defending champions Exeter are set to face the second-placed Bears on Saturday at Sandy Park, with both sides on 20 points after five games.

Baxter said at a press conference on Wednesday: “We have had some positive tests, but that is as far as I can say on that really.

“That’s had a slight impact on the availability of players but not huge. We’ve selected a team that looks very good.

“When we have anything in the camp Covid-wise, we always try to organise a second round of testing, so we will do that either tomorrow or Friday.

“That will just ensure when we take to the field we can, with that 100 per cent confidence, know we are not risking transmitting anything to Bristol.”

Asked if he was confident the game will go ahead, Baxter said: “At this stage I’m very confident, but experience has told me that every time I’ve said I’m confident about where the Covid scenario is within club rugby, something comes around and the opposite happens.

“At this stage we’ve done everything correctly, as we have done before. There’s no reason to say we should have any problems, but we’re doing it as a precaution.”





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