Rugby player tests positive for COVID-19
In a chilling warning to all the codes hoping to play through the coronavirus crisis, Australian rugby has been left teetering on the brink of a complete shutdown after a Sydney University first grade player tested positive to COVID-19 on the weekend.
Rugby Australia has already ordered all non-professional rugby teams to stop playing or training, leaving only Super Rugby and the Olympic-bound Sevens team still able to practise - but for how much longer nobody knows.
The remaining players that are still able to train know they will be sent into immediate self-isolation if just one of their teammates tests positive to the deadly virus that could just be a cough away.
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The men's sevens squad dodged a bullet when two players who underwent tests after showing symptoms were cleared on Wednesday but the frailty of the situation hit home when Sydney University announced one of their players - believed to be a front rower - did test positive after playing in Saturday's Australian Club Championship win over Queensland University.
"SUFC regrets to inform our community that we have a confirmed case of COVID-19 within our playing group. The Club is in communication with NSW Health to deal with the situation," the University said in a statement.
"As the player was symptomatic on Sunday, NSW Health are advising anyone who had close contact on Saturday is of concern."
It is understood at least three of the player's teammates who were in closest contact with him have been told to self-isolate for two weeks while everyone else has been advised just to monitor their own symptoms.
The 23 UQ players involved in the match have not been ordered into quarantine but have been warned to be vigilant if any symptoms appear in what is looming as a possible test case for all football codes about how easily the virus is transmitted because front rowers are in close contact because they lock heads and bodies at scrum-time.
"Basically, a NSW Health representative has told all our players to monitor their health over the coming period but the contact has been deemed indirect," UQRC general manager Jason Greenhalgh said.
"Because it wasn't direct, constant contact for 15 minutes or more (at a scrum), we have been advised it is regarded as indirect contact even for our front-rowers.
"Obviously, there is a concern … all our 23 players from that game have been contacted and told to self-isolate and get tested immediately if symptoms arise.
"One of our players has indicated he wants to get tested even without showing symptoms.
"We're being told (by health authorities) that being in the Sydney University dressing room, an enclosed area, for a prolonged period would have been a higher risk."