Sale Sharks made to wait as Premiership play-off dreams hang in the balance

The AJ Bell Stadium - Bill Boadon, Geograph

Sale Sharks face an anxious wait to see if they can fulfil their final Premiership game of the season after the RFU launched an investigation into the club’s 19 positive coronavirus tests.

The outbreak ultimately means Sunday’s final game against Worcester Warriors was postponed and has been moved to this Wednesday night (7th October) – a decision that only came on Saturday after the club sought advice from Public Health England.

Further COVID 19 testing will take place on Tuesday ahead of the rearranged game, and ultimately one of Sale’s most important Premiership games in the last decade – where victory guarantees them a play-off spot – is looking like a serious doubt to be played at all.

The question is just how did this situation come about?

Well that is what the RFU are investigating after an unprecedented number of positive tests – these returned just 10 days after Sale celebrated Premiership Rugby Cup glory with a comeback victory against Harlequins.

The 27-19 victory two weeks ago in England Rugby Union’s premier domestic cup competition gave Sale their first silverware since winning the Premiership in 2006.

Sale Sharks came out with a strong statement this weekend in regards of the current situation.

And in the statement – posted on the club website on Saturday – the club clearly defended their approach saying: Although a number of positive tests have been recorded, Sale Sharks have stringently followed PRL and RFU protocols throughout the pandemic in order to contain the spread of the virus.

Furthermore, it was stressed that all of the club’s players and staff are currently well.

Sale were looking towards one of their most memorable seasons in recent history, however, such a situation has turned into a mess – not only at the club but across English Rugby as a whole.

The consequences were felt further south this weekend as the final day of Premiership had a second casualty as Northampton v Gloucester was called off.

Such a decision came after Northampton played Sale last week and this has put the PRL AND RFU’s integrity into jeopardy as Gloucester were awarded a 20-0 victory due to the hosts inability to complete the game.

And now the news has hit the national pages as yesterday England manager Eddie Jones named 12 uncapped players as he announced his training squad ahead of the Six international fixtures starting later this month.

This comes after Jones was left without six topflight teams to pick players from – with Exeter, Wasps, Bristol, Bath, Sale and Worcester players all unavailable due to potential play-off commitments and the current coronavirus predicament.

Sale are due to host Worcester Warriors at the AJ Bell Stadium at Wednesday night, with the game kicking off at 19:45 BST.