The latest crop of Premiership cancellations due to players testing positive for Covid-19 has improved the case for the top flight to be narrowed down, Alan Solomons, Worcester’s rugby director, believes.
After the Saints revealed on Monday that they had registered a ‘small number’ of positive test results, Northampton’s East Midlands derby against Leicester at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday is in doubt. In the last two rounds, four games have been cancelled, with all teams involved receiving points. In 11 matches since 2012, the two points London Irish picked up against Bath is double the number of goals conceded against the West Country team.
“There are a number of advantages to cleaning up the Premiership, and not just commercial ones,” Solomons said.
“Worcester, who added to their coaching staff former Wales winger Mark Jones, was awarded four points after the game against Harlequins was called off last week and Solomons said, “Obviously, there are arguments in the other direction, but the effect Covid had sharpened the minds of everyone on the subject.
It undoubtedly put the spotlight on it.’
With only one victory in five Premiership games this season, Gloucester is at the bottom of the table. George Skivington, their head coach, said that the team has imposed stringent rules, such as wearing masks off the field at all times, making them sit far apart and avoiding close touch.
“That’s the reason we haven’t canceled any games yet,” he said.
Asked if this season’s relegation fight should be suspended, he responded, “It’s become chaotic, but I’m not going to engage in anything I can’t control.”
My emphasis is on the pitch.
Leicester has been struck by a virus this season. After the virus broke out at the club two weeks ago, they were forced to close their training ground and some players and head coach Steve Borthwick were stranded at home when Bath visited Welford Road last Sunday, a week after their match against Newcastle was called off.
On Tuesday, Northampton cancelled its press conference, an act that implied cancellation, and the Leicester European Challenge Cup match at Bayonne next week was already cancelled after the Top 14 club revealed that it had withdrawn from the tournament following a spike in the number of club cases involving Covid.