Scotland’s preparations for Sunday’s clash with England A have been thrown into chaos after the Scottish Rugby Union confirmed an unnamed player had tested positive for Covid-19, with eight others forced to self-isolate.
A second-string side led by Mike Blair are due to take on the Auld Enemy at Leicester’s Mattioli Woods Welford Road.
Murrayfield chiefs insist the match is “still scheduled to go ahead as planned”, but interim head coach Blair has been forced to shelve his planned team announcement press conference and call up five new players after ripping up his original game plan.
The SRU, which is refusing to name the players involved, said in a statement: “Scottish Rugby can confirm a Scotland men’s player has tested positive for Covid-19 while preparing to face England A this weekend.
“The player started self-isolation as per Scottish Government guidelines.
“Subsequent internal contact tracing identified a group of eight potential contacts who are also isolating and as such nine players have been ruled out of Sunday’s A international fixture against England A at Mattioli Woods Welford Road.”
Blair, who is standing in for Gregor Townsend while he is on duty with the British and Irish Lions, had named a 37-man squad for the match with England, which was then due to be trimmed back to 29 ahead of two full Test matches against Romania and Georgia next month.
But as a result of the quarantine restrictions, Glasgow duo Stafford McDowall and D’Arcy Rae, Edinburgh’s George Taylor, Ben Vellacott of Wasps and Saracens forward Callum Hunter-Hill have all been called up to face the Red Rose reserves.
The Scots were due to travel to Leicester on Thursday but the trip was postponed as a precaution while the entire squad and management team were re-tested.
The SRU says no further positive results have been returned from the playing group and the squad will travel south on Friday.
Blair was due to name his side later on Friday but that has also been pushed back until 10.30am on Saturday.