France agree on Six Nations cut
NEWS: The French federation (FFR) and the body running professional rugby in France, the LNR, on Thursday found an “agreement in principle” to cut France’s Six Nations squad by a quarter to 31, an official said.
France coach Fabien Galthie had called up 42 players (with five as training partners) to gather for a Nice training camp before taking on Italy in Rome on February 6.
That number will now be cut to 31 for the eight-week-long Championship, FFR vice-president Serge Simon told AFP after a meeting with the LNR.
“It was a very constructive meeting. Everybody agrees that there is something that goes beyond the framework of rugby, it is the health situation.
“So measures that go in the direction of greater safety and an even more secure protocol fell on sympathetic ears.
“There is an agreement in principle,” Simon said. “There are some details to iron out to transform this into a new accord.”
According to another source, a second meeting will take place either Friday or Saturday to finalise the accord and also tackling the issue of the two weeks during the Six Nations when there are no games.
“There is a situation which has shown the complexity and reality of what’s going on,” said Simon, a former France prop who acts as the de facto COVID-19 manager for Les Bleus.
“The situation in the clubs has not stabilised, there are sources of contamination which are still present and each time the players are concerned, even indirectly.
“All of that made people realise that trips back and forth to clubs stir up great anxiety, despite a strict protocol that works well.”
Simon added: “To go from 42 players to 31 means a 25 percent reduction in personnel concerned and thus the number of potential cases of contamination.”
Should there be an injury, a new player will be able to join up with the reduced squad, all the while respecting the current protocol: a test on arrival and self-isolation while awaiting the result.
“It’s a squad of 31 players which will be changed by injuries,” Simon said. “It’s not a closed squad.”