Scotland's rugby tests run risk of cancellation, SRU chief Mark Dodson admits

Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson has admitted for the first time that the national team’s summer Tests against Romania and Georgia could be called off because of Covid concerns.

Scotland's Test matches are at risk of cancellation following similar fate for the England match at the weekend (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group/SRU)
Scotland's Test matches are at risk of cancellation following similar fate for the England match at the weekend (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group/SRU)

The entire Scotland squad - players and management - are self-isolating instead of training this week after a number of positive tests caused the cancellation of last Sunday’s ‘A’ international against England in Leicester. The plan at present is for the group to reconvene at the start of next week before flying out to Romania a week , but Dodson said yesterday that all would depend on further rounds of tests.

“It’s a waiting game,” he replied when asked if the matches - against the Romanians on Saturday 10 July then Georgia on Saturday 17 - would proceed as hoped. “We’ll have to wait and see.

“One of the issues is that Covid got into our camp and we have to do three or four more days’ surveillance. Only when we find the outcomes of that surveillance can we take any judgments. We’ll be better placed to give out more information in three or four days.

“The players are being tested daily. We’re waiting for the tests to come back to us. As soon as we know the results of those tests we’ll make them available.”

Nine players had to drop out of interim head coach Mike Blair’s squad last Friday - one because of a positive test and eight after being identified as close contacts - and the interim head coach called in five players for the trip to Leicester. A matchday squad of 23 was then named for the game, but three more positive tests meant it did not go ahead.

Individual players may not need heavy training sessions at this stage of the season, but this is a largely untried squad at international level, and even if they do get the all-clear to travel, they will go into the two Tests drastically short of collective preparation. Dodson insisted it would be preferable for the games to go ahead, but accepted that further testing would be the determinant factor.

“We want to fulfil all our fixtures as part of our calendar. It is important we play Romania and Georgia, but as we’ve said all week health comes first. We have to look after the health of our players.

“We have to listen to the docs, and they need three or four more days to give us any robust information on this. We have to wait and see how things develop.”

Dodson’s admission follows a weekend of disruption for British rugby over covid tests.

As well as the men’s match called off in Leicester at the last minute, there was doubt over the British and Irish Lions’ tour of South Africa after positive cases were traced in Springboks’ camp and the squad sent into isolation.

However preparations for their three matches against the Lions, who landed in Johannesburg earlier this week, and a weekend clash with Georgia have since resumed after government medical advice permitted training could take place. One of the players to test positive, Herschel Jantjies, was also allowed to take part after returning a second, negative, test.

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