Fixtures disrupted as virus ravages UK

·3-min read

Two Premiership rugby clashes have been cancelled while another EPL match was postponed as the COVID-19 virus continues to ravage sport in the UK.

With figures continuing to soar, the Premier League postponed Wednesday's game between Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham after an outbreak at Craven Cottage.

It becomes the third top-flight soccer match to be wiped out by the virus, following Newcastle's match with Aston Villa earlier this month and Monday's game between Everton and Manchester City.

"Everyone at Tottenham Hotspur sends their best wishes to Fulham for a safe and speedy recovery to all those who are affected," a Spurs statement said.

West Bromwich Albion manager Sam Allardyce called for the league to be paused due to the rise in infections.

"As much as we're getting tested it seems to be creeping round.

"No matter how hard we try, no matter how many times we get tested, how we wear our masks, how we sanitise our hands, we're still catching a lot infections around the country."

But the Premier League said they had "no plans" to pause the season.

"The League continues to have confidence in its COVID-19 protocols to enable fixtures to be played as scheduled, and these protocols continue to have the full backing of Government.

"With the health of players and staff the priority, the League is also fully supportive of how clubs are implementing the protocols and rules."

The Gallagher Premiership was hit hard though with two round-five fixtures cancelled by outbreaks at Harlequins and London Irish.

Quins' trip to Worcester on Friday was first to fall after the Twickenham club revealed they would be unable to pick a front row because of one positive test and its domino effect on other players needing to self-isolate as part of contact tracing protocols.

And for a second successive weekend, Irish will be inactive after they returned a number of positives from the latest round of testing which, combined with their contact tracing procedures, means they cannot field a team against Northampton on Sunday.

The news comes on the day Premiership Rugby reported its highest number of positive cases since testing began in July.

A total of 951 players and management from the 12 top-flight clubs were tested with 33 people from 10 clubs returning positives, 24 of them players and nine members of staff.

In total, four of this season's 30 Premiership games have now been cancelled because of the virus.

In the US, the NFL confirmed there were 21 new positive cases among players and 37 among other personnel in the league's latest round of testing for the virus.

The NFL played all 240 games scheduled through week 16, although there have been several games moved to new dates because of COVID-19 issues.

The Cleveland Browns shut down their training and practice facility on Wednesday after a player and a staff member tested positive.

The 10-5 Browns are in the hunt for a playoff spot and the positive tests could pose a Week 17 challenge for the league with little scope to reschedule the game.

In the NHL, the Nashville Predators say they will start their season on January 14 without fans for the foreseeable future with the pandemic surging in the area.

Meanwhile, American tennis player Sam Querrey was handed a suspended $20,000 fine by the ATP tour for breaching coronavirus protocols at the St Petersburg Open in October.

Querrey left Russia on a private plane after testing positive for COVID-19, despite having been placed in isolation by local authorities.

The ATP concluded Querrey's conduct was "contrary to the integrity of the game" but the fine will be lifted if the 33-year-old does not commit any further violations of health and safety protocols during a six-month probationary period.