Sale’s match with Worcester Warriors has been called off after Premiership Rugby reported six more Sharks players have tested positive for Covid-19.
The game was originally due to take place on Sunday, but it was rearranged for Wednesday after 19 cases of coronavirus in the Sharks camp.
It means Worcester are awarded a 20-0 win and Sale miss out on the play-offs.
Bath will now travel to leaders Exeter in the semi-finals on Saturday, while Bristol go to Wasps.
Two members of Sale rugby staff have also returned positive results from the latest round of testing, bringing the number of infections at the club to 27 in the past seven days.
Worcester welcomed the decision to cancel the fixture, calling it “the right outcome for the safety of all players, staff and officials involved”.
The club also extended it sympathies to Sale that a match with such significance for their play-off hopes had to be forfeited.
While Sale admitted the cancellation is “devastating”, denying them the chance to win the Premiership title, it wholly understands “the welfare of players, staff and officials is the most important factor”.
The Sharks are the subject of a Rugby Football Union investigation into their Covid management after the initial 19 positive results were confirmed on Saturday.
The club once again denied reports players and staff had broken any guidelines and protocols given to them by the RFU and Premiership Rugby.
It also labelled claims players had gone out partying and socialising in Manchester following their Premiership Rugby Cup victory over Harlequins on 21 September as “completely inaccurate and untrue”.
Premiership play-off semi-final line-up
- Wasps v Bristol Bears (Saturday, 10 October at 13:30 BST)
- Exeter Chiefs v Bath (Saturday, 10 October at 16:30 BST)
RFU ‘remains concerned’
Sale are also confident the RFU’s audit will confirm there have been no protocol breaches by the club, but the game’s governing body is maintaining “concerns” over how the situation at Sale has developed.
“The RFU is undertaking a full and thorough investigation and is working closely with Public Health England,” said an RFU statement.
“A summary of findings will be published in due course and we will consider if there are any learnings for all clubs.
“The RFU has concerns about how this situation has developed and will be making recommendations to PRL [Premiership Rugby] and the PGB [Professional Game Board] to avoid future uncertainty for clubs and players as well as protecting the reputation of the game.”
The cancellation of Wednesday’s final round Premiership fixture, which was due to be held at Sale’s AJ Bell Stadium, means Worcester are also awarded five points as well as the 20-0 scoreline.
The final league table sees Sharks finish fifth, three points behind Bath in fourth, while Worcester narrowly miss out on European Champions Cup qualification in ninth, finishing level on points with eighth-placed Northampton.