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Rugby rocked: Munster player tests positive for Covid-19

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Anxious wait: The Munster players, head coach Johann van Graan and his backroom team will be tested. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Anxious wait: The Munster players, head coach Johann van Graan and his backroom team will be tested. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Anxious wait: The Munster players, head coach Johann van Graan and his backroom team will be tested. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Irish rugby has been rocked by its first Covid-19 case, just over a week out from the planned return to competitive action.

A Munster Academy player, who had been training with the senior squad, reported symptoms of the virus last Sunday, and has since received a positive test result.

Munster are due to take on Leinster at the Aviva Stadium tomorrow week in the PRO14, but it now remains to be seen whether that game will be allowed to go ahead.

Six more players from the Munster set-up, including one senior player, have been instructed to self-isolate.

They were deemed to be potential close contacts of the individual in question.

Until now, Irish rugby has not produced a single Covid case from more than 600 tests.

However, this latest development has served as another stark reminder of how every sport in the country remains in a precarious position.

In light of the positive test, Munster took the decision to cancel yesterday's senior training at their High Performance Centre (HPC) in the University of Limerick, as well as the Academy session, which was due to be held in Thomond Park.

The club now faces an anxious few days to see whether any more of their players suffer symptoms before they are due to return to the HPC on Monday.

The entire Munster squad, as well as the backroom staff, will undergo the third phase of the IRFU's required testing programme on Monday, before the results are released to the public.

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The IRFU is believed to be optimistic that next week's eagerly anticipated showdown between Munster and Leinster will go ahead behind closed doors at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, but that will depend on how the squad presents over the coming days.

Munster are also awaiting further guidance from the HSE regarding the other six players who are now self-isolating after they were identified as potential close contacts of the positive case from social and household settings.

It is hoped that the spread of the virus within the squad has been contained because the Munster player who tested positive had not been in the HPC this week.

He has instead been self-­isolating as per the medical guidelines.

According Dr Jamie Kearns, the club's head of medical, the individual is recovering well, but he will continue to be monitored closely over the coming days.

"The health and safety of our players and staff is the priority and that is why we are taking all precautions, going above and beyond, ensuring the safe resumption of training and rugby next week," Dr Kearns said in an official club statement.

"The player involved has not been in the High Performance Centre this week and the HSE has confirmed that the training group are not considered as close contacts.

"The individual is continuing to be monitored medically and remains well.

"There are protocols and policies in place that everyone has been following, and we will continue to be vigilant in all our efforts as we move closer to the return of rugby on Saturday week."

Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland


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