Bristol will face Exeter in the Premiership final next weekend if Wasps record more positive tests for Covid-19 next week and are unable to prepare for the Twickenham showdown.
Wasps sent their players home on Wednesday after four from the club’s academy, a couple of whom are on the fringe of the first team, tested positive along with three members of staff. An extra batch of tests has been arranged for Saturday before the next official round on Tuesday.
Before the season resumed in August, Premiership Rugby, in consultation with the Rugby Football Union and the Professional Game Board, drew up a contingency plan for every one of the remaining 11 rounds of matches should a club be unable to field a team because of coronavirus.
For the Twickenham showpiece, it meant the team that finished third in the table would step up if one of the finalists was forced to pull out. The Bears, who lost against Wasps in the semi-final at the Ricoh Arena last weekend and have never played in a Premiership final, clinched the spot on the last day of the regular season by beating London Irish while Bath drew at Saracens and Sale forfeited their game against Worcester following multiple positive tests.
It has worked out well for Premiership Rugby because while the other nine clubs started their end-of-season break on Monday, or saw players join up with England, Bristol remained in camp to prepare for the European Challenge Cup final against Toulon in Aix-en-Provence on Friday night.
Wasps hope that because none of the players who tested positive was a regular in the first team they will not suffer like Sale, who had 19 positive tests followed by eight more the next week, although they are likely to have to wait until Wednesday before knowing whether they will be travelling to Twickenham.
That is when the results of Tuesday’s tests will be known. Saturday’s test results are expected on Monday, although Sunday has not been ruled out, when Wasps hope to be able to resume full training.
Their head coach, Lee Blackett, spoke about living with the threat of the virus this week on the day before the test results came back. “I feel for Sale given what happened there,” he said.
“It has woken everyone up to what is going on in the world. You have got to be really careful but we all accept anyone can get it. You can pick it up at the supermarket and you have to do everything possible to protect yourself as a club.”