Coronavirus: Sale Sharks cleared of wrongdoing over outbreak, says Steve Diamond

Steve Diamond says Sale have been cleared of any wrongdoing by the RFU over their handling of a coronavirus outbreak at the club.

Sale were unable to fulfil their last fixture of the 2019/20 season against Worcester in October after a total of 27 players and staff members tested positive for coronavirus, a forfeiture that saw them miss the Gallagher Premiership play-offs.

Sharks director of rugby Diamond has dismissed suggestions that his players were partying and socialising throughout Manchester after their Premiership Rugby Cup victory over Harlequins on September 21.

“Quite rightly we were cleared by the RFU,” Diamond said. “The judgement isn’t out until this afternoon but that appears to be the decision making.

“Obviously we had a mass outbreak so they’ve got to have a look at it.

“I was a bit disappointed with rugby in general over the event where Pat Lam, Ugo Monye and Alan Solomons all jumped in on these false allegations that we were partying in the inner city and the student areas of Manchester, which was a real poor thing to say with no evidence and obviously it was factually incorrect.

“But I’m delighted with the decision that we’ve been exonerated. There are some issues no doubt in the report that will be advisory and will be advisory for all clubs.”

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Diamond insists his side were made unfair scapegoats when he believes the positive test results were likely a reflection of increasing cases in the north west.

“There was a natural spike in the region and put that together with we were given a false negative, they would have been contributory factors to the outbreak,” Diamond said.

“What happened to us could have happened to anybody. It happened to Wasps to a lesser extent and it’s recently happened to Leicester.

“We were the first and we were victims because we had a chance to go into the top four.”

Sale were also subject to a local authority investigation which Diamond says they passed “with flying colours” and he is hoping they can draw a line under it – sentiments echoed by club captain Jono Ross.

The Sharks kick-off the new season against Northampton Saints on Friday and both Diamond and Ross’ attentions are firmly focused on more immediate challenges.

“We’ve put it to bed, we’ve not really talked about it,” Diamond said. “We managed to get four weeks off, which was the positive from it, and we’ve trained for two weeks pretty hard. Everybody is symptom free.”

Ross added: “Some of the comments made across rugby was quite disappointing, the players were hurt by that. It’s not nice to be accused of things that weren’t going on.

“I’m sure it will come out but the biggest disappointment out of everything was not to able to have a chance of getting into the top four.”

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