London Irish boss Kidney slams ‘crass’ Covid points critics

London Irish director of rugby Declan Kidney has hit out at critics of Premiership Rugby’s Covid-19 points system, despite his side being affected by it.

The Exiles have seen their last two league matches against Bath and Northampton postponed due to coronavirus outbreaks, with Kidney’s team being awarded two points for each game and their opponents four and a 0-0 walkover win.

Irish return to action against local rivals Harlequins on Sunday after all squad members tested negative this week but elsewhere the east Midlands derby between Leicester and Northampton is off after positives tests in the Saints camp.

Some critics have said the points system makes a mockery of the league and called for the Premiership to be ring-fenced to prevent a club being relegated due to Covid restricting their ability to play matches.

However, Kidney believes it’s not right to complain about something all clubs were aware of at the start of the season.

“As a coach you are not too worried about ring-fencing because if you finish last you are probably going be gone (sacked) anyway,” Kidney said.

“Like all clubs we have our aspirations but our aim is to finish as high up the league as possible.

“With the points system, somebody had to come up with something if you look at the European system it’s a 28 to nil loss and five points awarded which is quite harsh.

“In our league the system brings everyone a bit closer together.

“Having been in touch with some people who have had Covid, it seems a bit crass and inappropriate when people are quite ill with the virus to be deflating a system that was put in place at the start of the season and everyone knew about it.

“I could complain about it but I don’t think it is the right thing to do.

“We were highly frustrated that we couldn’t play last week when we were ready to go, but we have a civic duty to follow the rules and that is why the call was made.”

Irish have won one of the three league matches matches they have actually played this season and Kidney said he expects a very difficult match-up against a sixth-placed Harlequins side that also saw their match against Worcester called off last Friday.

“We know that when they get their tail up they can pin us back, they have a back-row that can carry and a lot of speed out wide,” he said.

“We respect them hugely and we know it will be a good game.”

Quins coach Paul Gustard said his side are yet to fully impress him this season but believes they are not far away from a dominant display.

“We need to piece together an 80-minute performance, when we have dominance, we need to capitalise against sides,” Gustard said.

“The two Premiership fixtures that we’ve lost so far were against the top two in the league where we had our chances, but we weren’t able to finish those sides off.

“We have an identity that we want to try and play to. If we do that and we’re accurate, then we’ll go far.

“If we don’t, then it’s a case that we’re still not fully executing our game plans as well as we can.”