Hope rises for embattled French
NEWS UPDATE: France’s COVID-hit Six Nations squad reported no new cases from the latest batch of tests conducted late Monday ahead of this weekend’s clash with Scotland.
France are waiting to hear on Wednesday if the fixture will go ahead after captain Charles Ollivon was among five players to be ruled out after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier on Monday.
Ollivon was withdrawn from the squad along with Cyril Baille, Peato Mauvaka, Romain Taofifenua and Brice Dulin.
This quintet took the total number of positive cases in the France camp to 14, including coach Fabien Galthie and star scrumhalf Antoine Dupont.
The virus has thrown France’s preparations for their third Six Nations outing at the Stade de France into disarray.
All the positive cases have emerged since France returned from beating Ireland 15-13 in Dublin on February 14 to top the championship table and putting them in a strong position to claim their first title since 2010.
Against Scotland, should the match be given the all-clear, France will be missing more than half the players figuring in the wins against Ireland and their opening 50-10 rout of Italy.
The Six Nations Testing Oversight Group (TOG) says it will review the situation regarding Sunday’s game on Wednesday.
“A decision on whether the France v Scotland fixture can go ahead will be made at that stage,” said the TOG in a statement Monday.
“Should the decision be that the fixture cannot go ahead, the match will be rescheduled for the earliest possible date.”
The French players remaining in the squad have been instructed to have no close contact with collective training resuming on Wednesday, subject to results of tests carried out every 24 hours.
Scottish Rugby said that they were keen for the match to go ahead as any postponement could mean more than 10 players being unavailable for a rearranged fixture due to player-release agreements with clubs.
“We will be working closely with our Six Nations counterparts to press the case for this game to go ahead, should it be medically safe to do so,” the statement read.
Dupont tested positive last week and had already been omitted from the 31-man squad for Sunday’s game in Paris.
The FFR also revealed that hooker Julien Marchand and centre Arthur Vincent had tested positive on Saturday.
Marchand and Vincent were also left out as were prop Mohamed Haouas and wing Gabin Villiere who tested positive on Friday.