Exeter’s Rob Baxter: Covid-19 poses threat to rugby’s viability

Director says game’s big challenge is staying a professional sport over next 12 months

Rob Baxter has suggested teams should be allowed to forfeit games due to Covid-19 outbreaks. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty

Rob Baxter has suggested teams should be allowed to forfeit games due to Covid-19 outbreaks. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty

 

Exeter Chiefs Director of Rugby Rob Baxter says the sport’s authorities must bring in regulations that will allow games to be forfeited in the event of Covid-19 outbreaks at clubs.

European champions Exeter head into Saturday’s Premiership final after their opponents Wasps were eventually cleared to take the field at Twickenham despite recording 11 positive tests.

Their Champions Cup final opponents Racing 92 also endured a tough build-up to that game last week with a series of cases.

“As everyone’s going to be aware, the biggest challenge for rugby at the moment is not who wins trophies, it’s going to be staying around as a professional viable sport over the next 12 months,” Baxter said.

“There’s no room to fit (rearranged) fixtures in again next season. Every single weekend is a Heineken Cup or a Premiership game until you get to the knockout stages later on.

“You’re not going to be able to cancel games. You’re going to have to have some regulation that games can be forfeited based on the Covid scenario.”

Baxter also said players cannot remain in bio-secure bubbles for long periods.

“It’s impossible. We’re in an area where, sooner or later, unless a vaccine happens, it’s going to get into the community at some stage,” Baxter added.

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