Scotland’s preparations for their match against England A on Sunday have been thrown into chaos after the Scottish Rugby Union confirmed an unnamed player had tested positive for Covid-19, with eight others forced to self-isolate.
A squad coached by Mike Blair are due to face England A at Leicester’s Welford Road. SRU officials insist the match is “still scheduled to go ahead as planned” – but Blair, the interim head coach, has been forced to shelve his team announcement, delaying the naming of the team until Saturday, and has called up five other players.
The SRU, which has not named the players involved, said in a statement: “Scottish Rugby can confirm a Scotland men’s player has tested positive for Covid-19 while preparing to face England A this weekend.
“The player started self-isolation as per Scottish government guidelines. Subsequent internal contact tracing identified a group of eight potential contacts who are also isolating and as such nine players have been ruled out of Sunday’s A international fixture against England A at Welford Road.”
Blair, who is standing in for Gregor Townsend while the Scotland head coach is with the British & Irish Lions, had named a 37-man squad for the match with England, which was due to be reduced to 29 before two full Test matches against Romania and Georgia next month.
Stafford McDowall and D’Arcy Rae of Glasgow, Edinburgh’s George Taylor, Ben Vellacott of Wasps and the Saracens forward Callum Hunter-Hill have now been called up.
The Scots were due to travel to Leicester on Thursday but the trip was postponed while players and staff were retested. The SRU says no further positive results have been returned from the playing group. Blair will now name his team at 10.30am on Saturday.
England A, meanwhile, will be led by the Gloucester flanker Lewis Ludlow with 11 uncapped players selected for the non-cap international. Bristol’s Harry Randall and Wasps’ Jacob Umaga will pair up at half-back, with Ollie Lawrence, Max Malins and Charlie Ewels joining Ellis Genge as the only fully capped players in the starting lineup.
The Bath flanker Sam Underhill has been ruled out with concussion, while the Northampton centre Fraser Dingwall has a calf issue.