Rugby League was again plunged into turmoil and uncertainty last night with the breaking news that six Hull FC players have tested positive for COVID-19 just hours after their restart defeat at the hands of the Salford Red Devils.
Salford are still awaiting the outcome of the tests on their squad and there is presently no speculation that they have any players with the virus, but there must be great concern amongst the players and staff that they have potentially been exposed and could lose players themselves.
In addition to the Hull FC players, two coaching staff members have also tested positive and a further player will be retested after his results were ‘inconclusive’.
Current protocols state that the RFL will now analyse Sundays game to determine whether any other players should self-isolate due to prolonged exposure to one of the infected players, and it is a massive blow after ten teams were involved in the five re-start matches over the weekend.
All of those with positive tests, and those identified as over-exposed, will be required to self-isolate until at least the 21st August.
The games between the Salford Red Devils and Catalans Dragons on Saturday afternoon, and between Hull FC and the Castleford Tigers on Sunday evening are now in doubt, depending on the number of players and staff who end up being isolated from both clubs.
In addition, the Challenge Cup sixth round tie between Hull FC and the Castleford Tigers will now also be in doubt. The game was scheduled to be broadcast live on the BBC on the 22nd August.
This news comes as a hammer blow to players and supporters who were hoping that the measures in place would safeguard the players and ensure that games could be played in safe conditions. Questions will be asked as to how, if protocols were being followed, the virus could have got a foothold in the Hull FC camp. Lessons will need to be learned to stop this happening again.