France v Scotland to go ahead despite virus outbreak

Wed, 24/02/2021, 10:30 pm
by AFP
The Six Nations match between France and Scotland will go ahead as planned despite a COVID Outbreak | Getty Images

The Six Nations match between France and Scotland will go ahead this weekend as planned despite an outbreak of coronavirus cases in the home camp, tournament organisers said on Wednesday.

Sunday's match in Paris was placed in doubt after 15 France players and staff including captain Charles Ollivon and coach Fabien Galthie contracted the virus following their February 14 win against Ireland in Dublin.

But after a fresh round of negative test results, France have now been given the go-ahead to host Gregor Townsend's squad.

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"Further to a meeting of the Six Nations testing oversight group this morning to review the latest test results of the French squad, the Six Nations confirm the plans to stage the France v Scotland match as originally scheduled this coming Sunday," said a Six Nations statement.

"We continue to monitor the situation very closely and are in regular contact with both unions."

All the positive cases have emerged since France returned from beating Ireland 15-13 to top the championship table and putting them in a strong position to claim their first title since 2010.

Since Galthie and forwards coach William Servat both tested positive, the French have lost 11 players to positive tests, including eight of the side that played in Dublin.

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Apart from Ollivon, they will be without star scrum-half Antoine Dupont and fellow backs Arthur Vincent, Gabin Villiere and Brice Dulin as well as the entire front row of Cyril Baille, Julien Marchand and Mohamed Haouas.

Hooker Peato Mauvaka and locks Romain Taofifenua and Baptiste Pesenti have also been ruled out. - Scotland 'ready to go' - The French subsequently called up Toulouse back row forward Selevasio Tolofua to join the squad, after showing two negative tests.

His only previousTest came in the Autumn Nations Cup final against England at Twickenham in December.

The France squad resumed full training on Wednesday, joined by 10 players from the Under-20 national team "whose serological tests attest to immunity toCovid-19", said the FFR.

"These players carried out the two negative RT-PCR tests before joining the France group, and will be subjected to daily PCR tests like the rest of the group."

Scottish Rugby Union chief executive Mark Dodson welcome the decision to go ahead as scheduled, with the Dark Blues in danger of being without more than10 players because of their commitments at non-Scottish clubs if the fixture was postponed until next week.

"It's important that we are allowed to prepare properly for that game," said Dodson.

"All the boys want to play it and I'm delighted the French want to play It too.

"We made our case quite clear to the Six Nations about why we wanted thegame played this Sunday and we look forward to a great contest. Touch wood,we're ready to go this Sunday."

Later Wednesday, French sports minister Roxana Maracineanu demanded rugbyfederation (FFR) president Bernard Laporte launch an investigation into theoutbreak.

The minister also asked health officials to examine "how the chain of contaminations was formed" within the squad.

Table-toppers France opened this year's Six Nations with a 50-10 thrashing of Italy and lead Wales, the only other side with a chance of completing a Grand Slam, on points difference.

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