On Tuesday morning this week one of our players who had played in the Widnes game 48 hours previously tested positive for Covid.. The RFL carried out an analysis of that match and concluded we had no close contacts with that player during the game. We ourselves applying NHS criteria away from the stadium and RFL criteria at the stadium and on coach travel concluded that we did not believe there were any close contacts. However we tested all players on Tuesday and again on Thursday with all tests negative. We had planned training on Saturday and prior to training further testing. Regrettably two more of our players then tested positive on Saturday and training had to be cancelled. On Saturday there then followed extensive analysis by ourselves and Rfl protocols were actioned including reference by the RFL to their Multicases Covid group of experts.
We declared that as far as we could see there were no close contacts by other players with the two players that had tested positive. We were determined to play despite the fact that due to injuries we could only field 16 fit players from our first team squad and we indicated that to the RFL. We realise that Featherstone are the favourites to win this game and a void game would be better for our % of wins in the League table but we feel that for the integrity of the competition we need to seek to play games rather than call them off hence our determination to play if at all possible. We are aware of others believing that some Clubs are declaring close contacts to avoid playing games and we did not want anyone thinking that about BatleyBulldogs taking into account our opposition today.
After careful consideration the RFL decided that they would allow us to play the game provided we tested for the fourth time this week on Sunday morning which we agreed to do and then provided there were no more positive cases. That is exactly what has happened.
On Saturday we took the decision to close our ticketing option in view of the risk that the game did not take place and could not be played on an alternative date to limit the potential refund scenario. We regret we had to do this but we had little alternative other than to just let people pay on the day in the hope the game was still on. This has been a complicated challenging and stressful week all round and very time consuming preventing us from doing other things for the benefit of our Club.
All our coaches and back room staff have been absolutely magnificent and the players have had extra burdens put on them in already difficult times. We are truly proud of the way we have managed to get this game on. Clearly against a very strong Featherstone side Craig has not only been unable to pick his strongest side due to unavailability of some players but has been unable to even select 17 players and been unable to train and carry out final preparations for such an important game but we are certain firstly we have taken the best option for the benefit of our sport and secondly that every single one of our players that take the field in such challenging circumstances will give of their very best for our Club.
Whatever the result Rugby League has been played and we are proud that has been achieved by our Club against such adversity.