Wayne Barnes withdraws as referee from Premiership final between Exeter and Wasps after testing positive for coronavirus… and has been replaced by Craig Maxwell-Keys
- Wayne Barnes has withdrawn from the Premiership final due to coronavirus
- Experienced official has been replaced by Craig Maxwell-Keys for showpiece
- He will officiate his first top-tier final for final between Exeter Chiefs and Wasps
Wayne Barnes will miss refereeing a 10th Premiership final on Saturday after he tested positive for coronavirus.
The 41-year-old official is replaced by Craig Maxwell-Keys – one of the few refs left available for the match as Karl Dickson is in charge of France v Wales in Paris with Ian Tempest his assistant, and Matthew Carley, Luke Pearce and Christophe Ridley are at Ireland v Italy in Dublin.
Maxwell-Keys, 30, will now take charge of his first final at Twickenham.
Wayne Barnes (L) has withdrawn from the Premiership final between Exeter and Wasps after testing positive for coronavirus and has been replaced by Craig Maxwell-Keys
Barnes tweeted the news of his positive test, saying: ‘Sadly I’ll be out of action this weekend as my weekly routine coronavirus test came back positive so I’m now isolating. Gutted to miss the final but wish Exeter Chiefs and Wasps and all match officials involved the best of luck for a great day.’
His withdrawal follows 11 players who are unavailable for Wasps, according to coach Lee Blackett, because of an outbreak of the virus.
The outbreak in the Wasps camp had threatened to surrender their place in the final, with Bristol Bears on standby to take their place.
It was confirmed on Wednesday, however, that Blackett’s side would be able to fulfil their place in the English rugby showpiece.
Barnes’ withdrawal comes after Wasps have 11 players unavailable after a Covid-19 outbreak