Worcester director gives backing to ringfencing of Premiership this season

This article is more than 4 months old
  • Alan Solomons highlights impact of rising Covid cases
  • Northampton’s match against Leicester in doubt
Alan Solomons pictured on the pitch while teams warm up
Alan Solomons: ‘There are a number of benefits of ring-fencing the Premiership, and not just commercial ones.’ Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Alan Solomons: ‘There are a number of benefits of ring-fencing the Premiership, and not just commercial ones.’ Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

First published on Tue 5 Jan 2021 14.20 EST

Alan Solomons, the Worcester director of rugby, believes the recent crop of cancellations in the Premiership because of players testing positive for Covid-19 has strengthened the argument for the top flight to be ringfenced.

Northampton’s east Midlands derby against Leicester at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday is in doubt after the Saints revealed they had recorded a “limited number” of positive results after tests on Monday. The last two rounds have seen four matches cancelled with all the teams involved awarded points, meaning the two London Irish picked up against Bath was double their tally against the West Country club in 11 matches since 2012.

“There are a number of benefits of ringfencing the Premiership, and not just commercial ones,” said Solomons.

Worcester, who have added the former Wales wing Mark Jones to their coaching staff, were awarded four points after last week’s match against Harlequins was called off and Solomons said: “Of course there are arguments the other way, but the impact Covid has had has sharpened everyone’s minds on this question. It has certainly put the focus on it.”

Gloucester are bottom of the table, with only one win in five Premiership matches this season. Their head coach, George Skivington, said the club had enforced rigid policies, such as wearing masks at all times off the field, players sitting well apart from each other and doing the minimum of close contact work.

“It is why we have had no games cancelled,” he said. Asked whether relegation should be suspended this season, he replied: “It has got messy, but I am not going to concern myself with something I cannot control. My focus is on the pitch.”

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Leicester have been hit by the virus this season. They had to shut their training ground two weeks ago after an outbreak at the club which left a number of players and head coach Steve Borthwick isolating at home last Sunday when Bath visited Welford Road, a week after the match against Newcastle was cancelled.

Northampton cancelled their media conference on Tuesday, an act which has come to presage a cancellation, and Leicester’s European Challenge Cup match at Bayonne next week has already been called off after the Top 14 club said it had pulled out of the tournament after an increase in Covid cases at the club.

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