Bristol Bears director of rugby Pat Lam postponed the club’s end-of-season party for a second time and is preparing his squad for a potential Premiership final against Exeter Chiefs.
The Bears were due to toast their 2019/20 campaign on Saturday after winning the European Challenge Cup the previous evening, but news of Wasps’ positive Covid-19 cases saw Lam’s side placed on standby to replace them in this weekend’s Twickenham final.
Wasps underwent an extra round of testing at the weekend and today learned that four additional members of the playing department tested positive, in addition to the seven that were recorded last week.
Bristol Bears organised a media session at just ten minutes’ notice and Pat Lam kicked off the well-attended online call with a three-and-a-half minute assessment of the situation before fielding questions.
Below is what he said at the start of the call…
“I thought I would start off firstly with my thoughts. I want to make this absolutely clear, just like when I first found out about this, and like I said after the game. We absolutely believe that Wasps and Exeter should be contesting the final, they thoroughly deserve it. Lee’s [Blackett] done an unbelievable job, Rob [Baxter] has done an unbelievable job. It was awesome on Saturday as well, it’s fantastic for the Premiership to see what Exeter have done.
“We, ourselves, we’ve been put in a situation that’s not ideal, but everything with Covid isn’t ideal. Even the fact that we’re waiting for our final to be done now and the season that we’ve all had and everything continues to challenge.
“I’ve got a players room all decked out in tropical gear and Hawaiian gear. We were supposed to have our end-of-season socially-distanced party to wrap up the season on Saturday, which we had to postpone. We were told we were going to get an answer this morning so we prepared for this afternoon, again we were hopeful that Wasps would get through. The place is still decked up. But once we found out about lunchtime that there had been more positives, we were told we would get an answer on Wednesday.
“The players have been great. A lot of us, including myself, were all booked for holidays, ready to go. That was supposed to be now, we had to put them all on hold. What we have to understand is, when we got back on the restart, there was a lot of things we all signed up to. Signed up to play midweek games, if someone isn’t able to fulfil a game then the 20-nil, there is no postponement, you forfeit the game, one of the other ones was the play-off situation which was at the semi-finals and finals that, if you can’t fulfil the games because of positive tests, the next team has to step in.
“We never thought that we would get there, of course there’s a possibility, and as I said, we hoped we wouldn’t get to this situation, but we are.
“The players have been great, the staff have been great, I’ve now got coaches who are ready to go, they’re busy working away now. We’re going to try and do a team selection in case we are there, try and put a gameplan together for that. We’ve quickly got to call a lunchtime, stop drinking alcohol.
“If we’re going to have any chance we’ve got to make sure that’s done and pretty much prepare as if we’re going to be in this final. We wait and see what is going to happen on Wednesday.
“We’re going to get tested as a group tomorrow morning, we’re going to come in and train tomorrow as well, and then come Wednesday, if not I have a happy wife and I go away with the family on holiday that we’ve booked, if not, then we prepare on Thursday for the final and get to London on Friday.”
Wasps players will also be tested on Tuesday before receiving their results on Wednesday. Further positive Covid-19 tests would likely lead to them being forced to forfeit the match.