Exeter Chiefs ‘on top’ of Covid-19 outbreak, says director of rugby Rob Baxter – BBC Sport

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Rob Baxter
Rob Baxter’s side are likely to need to win both of their remaining Champions Cup fixtures if they are to carry on defending their title

Exeter Chiefs have “got on top” of the Covid-19 outbreak which forced them to cancel their second Champions Cup tie, says director of rugby Rob Baxter.

Chiefs had to forfeit their pool game with Toulouse due to positive tests running into double figures.

Exeter had a 28-0 loss registered against them, making the defence of their European title more difficult.

The club have since been testing players twice a week, double the amount specified by Premiership Rugby.

“We will have a pretty strong squad to pick from based both on players who have completed their isolation and guys who have now tested negative three times in a row,” Baxter told BBC Sport while looking ahead to his side’s Boxing Day game with Gloucester.

“It’s not going to be a group going into the Gloucester game who only passed tests on Monday. Whoever plays against Gloucester will have passed a test on Monday and on Thursday.

“We’re actually doubling up all our testing beyond the requirements by Premiership Rugby which has enabled us to get on top of the scenario very quickly and we are fully expecting zero positives tomorrow.”

A third of last week’s second round of Champions Cup fixtures were cancelled because of positive Covid-19 tests, while the Premiership has lost its first fixture of the season to positive tests with Leicester unable to field a side against Newcastle on Boxing Day.

Domestic champions Exeter lead the Premiership having won all three of their matches with a try-scoring bonus point and averaged 36 points per game.

The Chiefs had recorded just a handful of positive coronavirus tests since the pandemic started in March prior to their recent outbreak.

“We’re comfortable with how we dealt with it, we spent a lot of time trying to look at how it potentially got into the camp and really the only explanation we can find is one or two players early in the week running into the Glasgow game potentially may have had it without being symptomatic,” added Baxter.

“Of course there is the outside chance it was picked up over the weekend from the Glasgow game. It’s kind of an impossible scenario for us to be on top of because of the large asymptomatic nature of it among young rugby players, so it’s really very difficult to assess how it actually gets in.

“It could come in through children, family members – it’s a very difficult scenario to try to put your finger on.”

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