Premiership teams sidelined by COVID-19 to forfeit games: Sale chief

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Premiership - Sale Sharks v Worcester Warriors - AJ Bell Stadium, Salford, Britain - September 9, 2018. Sale Sharks Director of Rugby Steve Diamond. Action Images/Ed Sykes

(Reuters) - Clubs in the English Premiership that are unable to field a team due to COVID-19 cases in their squad will be handed an automatic 20-0 defeat, Sale Sharks’ director Steve Diamond has said.

The Premiership, which has been suspended since March, will resume later this week with matches played in empty stadiums and strict protocols in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Nine rounds of fixtures have been crammed into six weeks and the final will take place less than a month before the new season starts in November.

“If a club is unavailable through COVID then the opposition get a 20-point win,” Diamond told British media. “But I’m not anticipating that to happen.”

Diamond said teams would share the points if a local lockdown imposed by the government prevented a game from taking place.

“We are in Greater Manchester. If there was a lockdown here and Exeter Chiefs were coming up the following week and they couldn’t play ... then the points are shared,” he added.

A total of 20 positive cases have been detected among players from the 12 Premiership clubs since testing began on July 6.

Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford