Bath Chronicle

Into play-offs

Bath face Ex­eter af­ter more Sale Covid cases

- John Evely sport@bathchron.co.uk Sports · Rugby · English Premiership · Sale Sharks · Sharks · Worcester Warriors · Worcester · Exeter Chiefs · Exeter · Northampton Town F.C. · Bristol · Bath Rugby · Bath · Sandara Park · Gloucester · Bristol Bears

Bath Rugby will play in their first Gal­lagher Pre­mier­ship semi­fi­nal for five years af­ter it was con­firmed that Sale Sharks had been forced to for­feit their fi­nal game of the sea­son.

Sale’s Round 22 match with Worces­ter War­riors was con­tro­ver­sially post­poned on Sun­day fol­low­ing an out­break of 19 cases of Covid19 at the club.

Mean­while Bath drew 17-17 with Sara­cens at Al­lianz Park to drop to fourth in the ta­ble, mean­ing if Sale had won their game in hand last night (Wed­nes­day) they would have ag­o­nis­ingly pushed the West Coun­try side out of the play-off po­si­tions.

How­ever on Wed­nes­day re­sults came back from Pre­mier­ship Rugby’s weekly coro­n­avirus test­ing pro­gramme which saw all Sale Sharks play­ers and staff mem­bers tested on Tues­day and an ad­di­tional six play­ers and two staff were found to have the virus, mean­ing there have been a to­tal of 27 pos­i­tive tests at Sale Sharks in the past seven days .

As a re­sult the game was for­feited and Worces­ter War­riors were awarded a 20-0 vic­tory.

But more sig­nif­i­cantly Bath’s place in the semi-fi­nals is now cer­tain and Stu­art Hooper’s side will travel to league lead­ers Ex­eter Chiefs on Satur­day (4.30pm kick-off) in a bid to make their first fi­nal since 2014/15 when the Blue, Black and Whites were beaten 28-16 by Sara­cens.

Hooper said in re­sponse to the news: “We have given ev­ery­thing we’ve got to this com­pe­ti­tion and I feel in­cred­i­bly proud to have earned the right to be in the play-offs. We are de­ter­mined to head to Sandy Park this week­end and play for our place in the fi­nal.

“It can­not go un­said that we also un­der­stand how dif­fi­cult this week has been for play­ers and staff at Sale, Worces­ter, Glouces­ter and Northamp­ton.

“We know what you have all given this sea­son and the sac­ri­fices you have all made. We are part of the same com­mu­nity and no one wants to hear that any Club is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing th­ese ex­tra­or­di­nary chal­lenges, es­pe­cially at this time in the sea­son. Im­por­tantly, we would like to wish all play­ers and staff at Sale a full and quick re­cov­ery for those cur­rently ex­pe­ri­enc­ing covid-19 symp­toms.”

Wasps will face Bris­tol Bears ear­lier in the day in the other semi-fi­nal at the Ri­coh Arena, kick­ing off at 1.30pm.

Pre­mier­ship Rugby chief ex­ec­u­tive Darren Childs said: “I have spo­ken to Sale Sharks this morn­ing (Wed­nes­day) and nei­ther the club or Pre­mier­ship Rugby will take risks with peo­ple’s health. To­gether we won’t com­pro­mise our com­mit­ment that matches will only hap­pen if it is safe to do so, there­fore the game is off. To­day’s de­ci­sion demon­strates that com­mit­ment.

“Our first thoughts are now with those at the club, both play­ers and man­age­ment, who have tested pos­i­tive and we wish them a speedy re­cov­ery. We mustn’t for­get we have a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of peo­ple at one of our clubs with Covid-19, and we will give the Sharks all the sup­port they need.

“We know ev­ery­one at Sale Sharks will be dev­as­tated, and we share their dis­ap­point­ment that their sea­son ends this way. But we can’t jeop­ar­dise the health of any play­ers, staff or man­age­ment at any of our clubs.”

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 ?? Pic: Luke Walker/getty Im­ages ?? Mike Wil­liams of Bath Rugby scores the first try of the match dur­ing the Gal­lagher Pre­mier­ship Rugby match against Sara­cens
Pic: Luke Walker/getty Im­ages Mike Wil­liams of Bath Rugby scores the first try of the match dur­ing the Gal­lagher Pre­mier­ship Rugby match against Sara­cens

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