Worcester Warriors director of rugby Alan Solomons has accused Sale of “late-night celebrations” as their rearranged Premiership game remains under review.
The Rugby Football Union, Premiership Rugby and Public Health England are all involved in that process after 16 Sharks players and three staff members tested positive for coronavirus.
The match should have taken place on Sunday, but Sale must undergo additional testing overseen by PHE and an independent audit of their track and trace processes before the fixture can be staged.
However, in an emotional interview with Planet Rugby, Solomons has not held back and raised suspicions of partying from Sale following their Premiership Rugby Cup win on September 21, something Sale boss Steve Diamond denied on BT Sport on Sunday evening.
“When you have 19 players test positive for Covid-19, that, to me represents a cluster and it’s a huge red flag and a fairly serious situation for any club to find themselves in,” Solomons said.
“The fact that there is that many Covid cases lends credence to the accusations of late-night celebrations.”
He added: “We are now in the hands of Premiership Rugby, the RFU and Public Health England, all of whom I will rely upon to make the right decision. I am not an expert, but these organisations contain the expertise needed.
“They have a duty of care to act in the best interests of player’s health and welfare, and the same for their families and loved ones.
“There’s a decision we must reach and one that goes beyond rugby itself.”
"People have to be respectful and responsible when they're not in the training environment.
"There's nowhere to go. They're very responsible and they wouldn't do that."
Steve Diamond dismisses claims that Sale Sharks players partied after their #PremRugbyCup win.#GPTonight pic.twitter.com/70F6j0dER4
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) October 4, 2020
Solomons confirmed that Diamond had contacted him on Friday morning to summarise the situation and that he expected that the game be cancelled, as was the match between Gloucester and Northampton Saints.
When asked if he felt that Premiership Rugby had acted consistently across the board, Solomons also questioned whether the direct communications line to Premiership Rugby was shared by other teams, especially given the close ties former Sale Sharks player and now PRL rugby director Phil Winstanley has with the club and his former team-mate, Diamond.
“Look, given the personal association Phil Winstanley has with Sale Sharks, there’s a strong question as to whether or not someone else should have been handling this from a PRL perspective,” added Solomons.
“Here at the Warriors we’ve been doing our best to be compliant – we’ve kept the place spotlessly clean, the boys and the backroom have stayed within our bubble and I can tell you we’ve done all we can to prevent any cases within the group.
“If the game goes ahead, we will have pretty much the same side I would have named for Sunday, with Nick Schonert still sidelined with concussion.
“One thing I will say, we’ll be up for this if it goes ahead and we won’t coast.”
by James While
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