Sale Sharks’ critical Premiership clash with Worcester Warriors is reportedly under threat of being cancelled after 16 players tested positive for coronavirus.
The decisive final round of regular-season fixtures on Sunday has been thrown into chaos by the spread of Covid-19 through the Sharks, with a small number of backroom staff also testing positive.
The fallout could also affect Northampton’s trip to Gloucester after Saints played Sale at Franklin’s Gardens on Tuesday.
Of more pressing concern given its importance to the race for a top-four finish, however, is the doubt that hovers over the Sharks’ ability to fulfil their showdown with Worcester.
The unavailability of 16 players decimates the Premiership’s smallest squad of just 32 senior professionals and would leave them unable to field a matchday 23 at the AJ Bell Stadium without summoning reinforcements from their academy or making emergency signings.
In addition, Manu Tuilagi, Cobus Wiese and Lood de Jager have been struck down by long-term injuries and are unavailable for a game Sale must win if they are to secure a semi-final.
Both Sale and Premiership Rugby (PRL) have been contacted for comment by the PA news agency.