Covid-hit Wasps close to losing glory shot to Bristol team they beat to get it

Wasps’ place in English rugby’s showpiece final is hanging by a thread after coronavirus spread in their camp.

Three days after four players tested positive three more suffered the same fate, increasing the likelihood that beaten semi-finalists Bristol will instead play Exeter at Twickenham on Saturday.

A further round of testing has been ordered for both clubs today with a final decision set for tomorrow.

Bristol were informed of the development just as they were about to kick off a Hawaiian themed party to celebrate their European Challenge Cup triumph.

The players, some of whom stayed up all night after Friday's cup win over Toulon, were told to stop drinking alcohol, put holidays on ice and get their heads around the idea of taking on Champions Cup winners Exeter.

Bears boss Pat Lam said: “It’s not ideal but this whole season hasn’t been ideal – just as everything with Covid, the whole situation the world is in, isn’t ideal.

“This season will have an asterisk on it and rightly so. People will look at the asterisk and say ‘oh that was Covid and that was a shocking time’.

“Of course Wasps and Exeter should be contesting this final. We absolutely believe that. They thoroughly deserve it.

“But we’re rugby ready and if we’re told we are to play we’ll adjust and adapt. You can either be a fighter or a victim, think ‘poor us’ and ‘this isn’t right’ or get on with it.”

Wasps’ first team squad have not trained since beating Bristol 10 days ago and are understood to have been isolating away from the outbreak. But that won't save their Twickenham dream if Covid claims anyone else.

The club, which now has 11 positives including training staff, will not return to training before tomorrow afternoon even if they get the green light.

Given Exeter are in their fifth Premiership final and flying high after becoming champions of Europe, it makes for a huge task for whoever ends up playing them.

If it is Bristol, Lam says he will dig out the template he used in 2018 to coach the Barbarians to victory over England on three days training.

They dressed up and had a good drink that week too, for all the harm it did them. Come game day they stuck nine tries on Eddie Jones’ team.

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