Coronavirus has forced Saracens to forfeit their match against Doncaster Knights despite the club doing “everything it could” to attempt to name a matchday squad.

The Men in Black were due to face Knights in the Trailfinders Challenge Cup on Saturday but two of the club’s academy players returned positive Covid-19 tests this week.

Contract tracing meant a further 16 players must isolate following the latest round of the weekly PCR Covid-19 testing programme ahead of their trip to Castle Park.

Injuries, suspensions and other isolation periods means the reigning Premiership and European champions are without 34 players for the contest and are therefore unable to field a side.

A club statement said: “The club did everything it could in its attempts to name a 23, but two additional players being contacted to isolate meant this was not possible.

“Those players and staff who have tested positive, or who are traced as contacts of those testing positive, will isolate for a minimum of 10 days with the wellbeing of club staff, players and their families paramount.”

The match was the second fixture in the Trailfinders Challenge Cup, which sees Saracens, Doncaster and Ealing Trailfinders play each other in a round-robin format.

It was created to help prepare the sides for the delayed Championship season, which is set to begin in March, with Ealing beating Saracens 27-26 in the curtain-raiser last weekend.

The cancellation means Doncaster have been awarded four points while Saracens, who were relegated from the Premiership last season due to salary cap breaches, receive two.

Eight of Saracens’ players remain unavailable for selection through suspension after breaching coronavirus rules while on Barbarians duty in October last year.

The start of the 2020/21 Championship season has already been delayed twice due to Covid-19 and will see the 12 teams split into two conferences, with the winners each playing a two-legged final.