Harlequins’ Gallagher Premiership clash at Worcester, due to take place on Friday, has been cancelled due to the London club’s inability to field a full front row as a result of contact tracing for coronavirus.
Quins returned a positive test for Covid-19 after their Boxing day defeat by Bristol and now an additional six players have been forced to self-isolate, whittling down their options at prop and hooker.
“In accordance with PHE guidelines, the seven players will now go into a 10-day isolation period,” a Harlequins statement read.
In addition, Harlequins have also stood all players down from training for a week in order to “minimise the use and possible contamination of the training facility, such is the need to protect the health and wellbeing of players and staff”.
Harlequins can confirm that the Club's New Year's Day fixture away to Worcester Warriors has been cancelled.
— Harlequins 🃏 (@Harlequins) December 30, 2020
A Premiership Rugby panel will determine the allocation of points, which under the current regulations will see Worcester awarded four points and Quins two on the grounds they are responsible for the cancellation.
“We would never cancel a match lightly, as we understand the consequences, but we will always put health and safety first,” a Premiership Rugby spokesperson said.
“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.”
It becomes the third league match of the season to fall to coronavirus after outbreaks at Leicester and London Irish forced the cancellation of two games last weekend.
Worcester are at the foot of the table after securing only one win from four outings, against London Irish in their campaign opener, while Quins have two victories.
Turning the page on 2⃣0⃣2⃣0⃣ & Round 4⃣ 👀
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) December 27, 2020
Despite the cancellations and the country’s escalating Covid-19 crisis, directors of rugby including Exeter’s Rob Baxter and Chris Boyd of Northampton have yet to call for a circuit breaker.
The PA news agency understands that Premiership Rugby (PRL), the governing body responsible for the league, has no plans to implement a circuit breaker at this stage.
PRL reported its highest number of positive cases of the 2020-21 season after the latest round of testing which took place on Monday.
A total of 951 players and management from the 12 top-flight clubs were tested with 33 people from 10 clubs returning positives, 24 of them players and nine members of staff.
“Those who tested positive and their close contacts are isolated and assessed in line with the Public Health England-agreed guidelines,” a PRL statement read.