Ten players in the French Six Nations squad have tested positive for coronavirus, putting the round three match against Scotland this weekend in jeopardy.
- France has two wins from two matches in this year’s Six Nations tournament to top the ladder
- French Government rules say anyone who tests positive for coronavirus must isolate for 10 days
- Scottish Rugby said any postponement would impact the availability of their players
The French Rugby Federation (FFR) said on Monday that five players — Cyril Baille, Peato Mauvaka, Romain Taofifenua, captain Charles Ollivon and Brice Dulin — had returned positive tests on Sunday, along with two members of staff.
That followed five more players testing positive last week — Arthur Vincent, Julien Marchand, Gabin Villiere, Mohamed Haouas and key man Antoine Dupont — along with coach Fabien Galthie and three other staff members.
French Government rules issued last week state that anyone testing positive must self-isolate for 10 days.
Six Nations officials will meet on Wednesday to decide if the team’s match with Scotland on Sunday can go ahead as planned.
The players who tested positive have been replaced in the 31-man squad, which is due to return to training on Wednesday, the FFR said.
Six Nations officials said over the weekend they were confident the game in Paris would go ahead, but organisers said on Monday their Testing Oversight Group reviewed the situation and would reconvene on Wednesday.
“Should the decision be that the fixture cannot go ahead, the match will be rescheduled for the earliest possible date,” organisers said in a statement.
However, Scottish Rugby released a statement on Tuesday saying its national team “are continuing their preparations to play France in Paris on Sunday” and that any postponement will impact player availability.
“Any postponement … could see more than 10 Scotland players unavailable for selection,” the statement read.
“We will be working closely with our Six Nations counterparts to press the case for this week’s game to go ahead, should it be medically safe to do so.”
France, whose participation in the tournament had been under threat before a ball had been kicked due to regulations enforced by the French Government, leads the standings with two wins from its two games against Italy and Ireland, ahead of Wales on points difference, as it seeks to lift the Six Nations title for the first time since 2010.
Such is the depth of the squad that they should still be able to put out a strong side in Paris, where they have not lost to the Scots for 22 years.
Due to an availability conflict with their clubs, France fielded a virtual third team in last year’s Autumn Nations Cup final against England and came within seconds of victory before losing to a sudden-death penalty in extra-time.
However, this Scotland team are no pushovers, and that losing record in Paris will not intimidate them. Scotland have already beaten England in the opening game of the tournament, ending a 38-year winless run against the Auld Enemy at Twickenham.
Scotland lost their other game in the competition at Murrayfield, 25-24 against Wales after losing Zander Fagerson to a red card.