Exeter Chiefs will undergo a second round of Covid-19 testing this week to ensure they can safely play Bristol Bears on Saturday in a top of the table clash.

Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter confirmed this morning there have been positive Covid-19 cases in his squad this week which were picked up during Premiership Rugby’s weekly screening programme.

However Baxter said he is confident he will be able to field a strong side to run out against Bristol at Sandy Park having already been forced to forfeit a Heineken Champions Cup game before Christmas following a break-out in double figures at the Devon club.

The latest number positive cases at Exeter appear to be considerably smaller.

Baxter said: “We have had some positive [Covid] tests and that has had a slight impact on the availability of players but not huge.

“We have selected a team which looks very good.

“We are a team that whenever we do have any positive Covid tests, organise a second round of testing later in the week so we will do that tomorrow or Friday to make sure everything has been picked up.

“We are one of these clubs which feel a responsibility to get on top of anything really quickly and certainly not risk players going onto the field against opposition with any doubt about whether they are positive for Covid.

“We are certainly going to have another round of testing to make sure nobody has slipped through the net or become viral later in the week so we can take the field with 100 percent confidence we are not risking transmitting anything to Bristol.

“At this stage I am very confident the game will go ahead but experience with Covid tells me things can change. At this stage we have done everything right.”

Baxter’s comments came just a hour before Northampton Saints’ Gallagher Premiership derby match against Leicester Tigers which was scheduled for Saturday was called off.

Northampton Saints returned positive tests in the latest round of PCR testing. In consultation with Public Health England and the Professional Rugby Testing Oversight Group, the match has been called off and the Northampton Saints training ground closed, with the next round of testing on Monday, January 11.

Leicester Tigers look set to be awarded four points from the cancelled game while Northampton will get two, although that is yet to be officially confirmed by the Premiership Rugby panel.



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A Premiership Rugby spokesperson said: “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.”

The cancellation means that is now the fifth of 36 Premiership games this season to be called off because of Covid-19 with the rest of the country in a national lockdown to help curb the spread of the virus.





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