Coronavirus: Sale Sharks warn Worcester Warriors game will be forfeited if they record another positive case
Sale have denied suggestions the coronavirus outbreak at the club came as a consequence of their players flouting social-distancing rules; 19 people at the club tested positive
By PA Media
Last Updated: 06/10/20 1:42pm
Sale Sharks say they could forfeit their rearranged Gallagher Premiership clash with Worcester Warriors on Wednesday if the club reports another positive coronavirus case.
Sixteen players and three members of staff tested positive prior to their crucial Premiership game originally scheduled for Sunday.
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Sale's final game of the regular season against Worcester has been postponed until Wednesday and the club - who will miss out on a play-off place if they lose - say they will not hesitate to forfeit the fixture if safety cannot be guaranteed.
Sale have denied suggestions the coronavirus outbreak at the club came as a consequence of their players flouting social-distancing rules.
The Sharks have confirmed they carried out an internal investigation following the allegations and are satisfied the outbreak is more likely to be a result of an initial 'false-negative'.
A statement from Sale on Monday evening read: "Following an internal investigation, Sale Sharks refute all recent allegations made in the national press and by other leading figures from Premiership Rugby clubs, regarding Sale Sharks' players being in central Manchester or on university campuses following the Premiership Rugby Cup final on Monday, September 21.
"Sale Sharks is unable at this moment to confirm the cause of the Covid-19 outbreak at the club. We suspect that the cause of the outbreak is related to a 'false-negative' test result received in respect of one of our players.
"If the club feel it is not safe to play and/or receive one additional positive test, Sale Sharks will forfeit their Gallagher Premiership round 22 match with Worcester Warriors in order to ensure the health and safety of all concerned."
Worcester boss Alan Solomons says a decision must be made "in the best interests of players, staff and families" about whether the game goes ahead.
The Rugby Football Union, Premiership Rugby and Public Health England are all involved in that process, and Sale must undergo additional testing overseen by PHE and an independent audit of their track and trace processes before the match can be staged.
Solomons said: "That decision is taken purely in what is in the best interests of players, staff and families.
"This is a major decision. It is certainly a red flag to have 19 people test positive."
Sale need a bonus-point victory over Worcester to book a Premiership play-off appointment with Wasps next weekend.
If they win without a bonus, it will be Exeter away, and should they lose, then Sale are out and Bath progress.
Warriors rugby director Solomons added: "The north of England is an area where the virus is on the increase.
"There are the circumstances there with a definitive cluster of 19 people, second wave, and they need to take a decision.
"It is their decision, and they bear the consequences of those decisions."
Solomons continued: "We just need to get some clarity and certainty. Premiership Rugby need to make a decision, working in conjunction with the RFU and Public Health England.
"We are preparing [for the Sale game] and have done everything correctly.
"If the game is played, we will be well up for the fixture. Nobody need be concerned.
"The one thing we would never do, and I don't believe any team in the Premiership would, is coast at this level. Every team put out gives everything."
England head coach Eddie Jones was already unable to select players for his training camp squad from the Premiership's top four sides due to the upcoming semi-finals, but also from Sale and Worcester, due to the rearranged clash following the Sharks' Covid cases.
However, by Tuesday morning, England boss Jones was forced to concede three further players could have to withdraw from the makeshift national side.
He named an overhauled 28-man squad which included 12 uncapped players ahead of a busy October and November, which will see them compete in the Six Nations and play in an Autumn Nations Cup.
Refusing to name the players under threat of withdrawing from the squad, Jones admitted England will continue to monitor the situation.
Asked how much the Sale situation could disrupt England, Jones said: "Well, I really don't know what's happened, all I try to do is select the players that are available, so that's all I've been worried about.
"We're looking at three players today whether they will be available to be selected, we'll find out this morning and then we'll just wait and see.
"Look, I think this is going to be the way it is at the moment.
"I just saw in the football England had three players unavailable this morning, they can't go into Gareth Southgate's camp.
"It's a fact of life at the moment, that's what we have to deal with, we can't get too worried about it, we're not too obsessed about it.
"We'll just take the players that are available, and work with those players."
Watch England take on the Barbarians at Twickenham on Sunday, October 25, live on Sky Sports Arena from 1pm.