Rob Baxter has called for an end to coronavirus testing of Premiership rugby players.
Fresh from guiding double-chasing Exeter into the European Cup final, Baxter warned his stars to be “hyper vigilant” to prevent the disease derailing their season.
But in the next breath he said he believed it is time to stop the testing regime for top flight teams, who face playing behind closed doors for the next six months.
Chiefs’ director of rugby said: “Hopefully it will be a matter of weeks where testing is deemed unnecessary.
“I think most clubs would be in agreement that what is being picked up and the actual transfer rates, even around players who are testing positive, are so so small that the argument for continued testing will die away pretty quickly.”
The crippling state of rugby’s finances brings added urgency to the need to curtail a testing process which costs £100,000 per round, £8,000 per club.
“It would save a fortune and free up a block of testing for other people,” said Baxter, who claims the programme is fast becoming “unnecessary”. The most recent batch yielded five positives from 1,056 tests.
“Because of the hygiene levels that are in place and the age-range of the players, positive tests are not leading to mass outbreaks. You would think they would. Is testing really preventing a locked-out club?
“I think the argument is getting very close to saying it’s not. Hopefully it will be a matter of weeks before testing is deemed unnecessary and we are moving to a different rugby environment.”
With less than three weeks until the Champions Cup showpiece, and a Premiership semi-final to play first, Baxter reminded his players to do all they can to avoid becoming another statistic.
“It would be criminal now to allow your standards to slip or to make that one mistake that means you’re unavailable for the biggest games of the season,” he said.
"The lads have been told to be extra vigilant because the last thing you want to do is be pulled in the week of a huge game."
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