Fiji’s involvement in the Autumn Nation’s Cup has been thrown into chaos after their second straight fixture in the new tournament was cancelled as COVID-19 runs rampant throughout the squad.
Vern Cotter’s side were due to play Italy on Saturday, but it has been cancelled as coronavirus cases within the Fijian camp rose to 29.
"The organiser of the Autumn Nations Cup today announced the cancellation of the Italy v Fiji match due to take place on Saturday, November 21, in Ancona,” a statement from the tournament organisers read.
"The decision was taken after the latest round of Covid-19 tests undertaken [on Monday] by the Fijian team returned 29 positive cases [on Tuesday morning].
"The tournament organiser remains in constant contact with the Fijian squad to address the situation. The main priority at present is the welfare of all players and management.
"The potential impact on Fiji’s remaining matches is currently under review."
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It’s the second straight match Fiji have missed, after their Test against France was also cancelled on Sunday, November 15.
Les Bleus were awarded a bonus-point victory as per tournament laws.
"Whilst no fault has been apportioned to Fiji Rugby, the competition rules provide that if a team is directly responsible for a match not taking place, a 28-0 victory will be awarded to the opposition that would have played,” a statement said.
"We wish the affected Fiji players well as they continue their recovery and we are working closely with Fiji Rugby to ensure they can field a competitive team against Italy."
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It means France now sit top of Group B, ahead of Scotland who beat Italy on Saturday.
Group A features Wales, England, Ireland and Georgia.
Each team should play every opponent in their group before a play-off finals weekend in December, where teams play opponents ranked in the same position in the other group.
The tournament was hoped to be the springboard of better things for Fiji, who outside of the World Cup have only had the Pacific Cup against tier-two and three opposition to test themselves.