Premiership: Wasps cleared to play Exeter Chiefs in final despite Covid-19 cases

Wasps sign at stadium
Wasps are through to the Premiership final for the first time since 2017

Wasps will take part in Saturday's Premiership final against Exeter Chiefs at Twickenham, despite 11 Covid-19 cases within the club in the past week.

Premiership Rugby confirmed Lee Blackett's side were clear to play after the latest round of testing.

Bristol were on stand-by if Wasps, who beat them in the semi-finals, had been unable to fulfil the fixture.

The decision was taken by the Rugby Football Union, Premiership Rugby and Public Health England officials.

This will be Wasps' first final since 2017, when they were beaten by the Chiefs in extra time.

Seven players and four backroom staff had been diagnosed with coronavirus before further tests were undertaken on Tuesday.

But in a statement, Wasps confirmed that "no further players or staff have tested positive", although a coaching staff test was damaged in transit and that member will now self-isolate as a precaution.

They also reiterated the need to maintain their "rigorous" protocols around track and trace as the players return to training for the game.

"I would like to place on record my sincere thanks to Premiership Rugby, the RFU, Public Health England and Public Health Warwickshire for their clarity and assistance throughout this whole process," Wasps group chief executive Stephen Vaughan said.

"As a club, we are delighted that we can now take our rightful place in this Saturday's Premiership Rugby final. To all of our fans and well-wishers, thank you for your many messages of support, this final is for you."

Chiefs director Rob Baxter, whose squad have been given the all-clear following their own latest round of testing, said Wasps being allowed to play was "the news I think most people wanted".

"Everyone was getting concerned with the Wasps situation, but we were getting concerned with ourselves, making sure we came through it," Baxter, whose side were crowned European champions after beating Racing 92 in Saturday's Champions Cup final, told BBC Sport.

"We anticipated we would be and that was the case, and it was great to have a message from Lee (Blackett) this morning to say that their testing had gone well."

Analysis - 'The credibility of the competition was on the line'

BBC Rugby Union correspondent Chris Jones told BBC Radio 5 live:

"There's relief all round, the testing has shown this hasn't spread further through the Wasps squad, no more cases.

"It has been a nervous few days, not just for Wasps, but also for Premiership Rugby as they would have known the whole credibility of the competition was on the line here.

"Bristol were on stand-by but they can go back to their celebrations having won the Challenge Cup against Toulon at the weekend.

"Who knows, maybe after a season compromised by the World Cup, the Saracens salary cap saga and the infinite challenges and issues thrown up by the pandemic, it may, after all that, finish with a fitting final at Twickenham?

"Let's hope that is the case and Wasps are able to be somewhere near their best despite all the disruption."