Scotland’s Six Nations game against France in Paris on Sunday has been plunged into further doubt with six more French players – including captain Charles Ollivon – testing positive for Covid-19.
France had already withdrawn four players from their squad over the weekend after an initial infection to head coach Fabien Galthie and three other members of the backroom staff was revealed last week.
Scrum-half and World Rugby player of the year Antoine Dupont tested positive on Friday, and was not named in the training squad at the weekend along with four other players who also subsequently tested positive – Arthur Vincent, Julien Marchand, Gabin Villiere and Mohamed Haouas.
The squad continues to be tested every 24 hours and six more players were named on Monday as having positive results and sent home from the French camp.
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) February 22, 2021
Skipper Ollivon, Cyril Baille, Peato Mauvaka, Brice Dulin and Romain Taofifenua were the five named and replacements have been called up. Ollivon and full-back Dulin were likely starters against Scotland at the Stade de France this weekend.
A sixth player, lock/flanker Baptiste Pesenti, tested positive later in the day as testing continued.
France’s squad depth allows them to replace the nine so far identified as having Covid-19 but the possibility of the game being postponed is now a live one.
In Autumn Nations Cup games in November a large outbreak among the Fiji squad caused three games to be cancelled, with the opposition being awarded a 28-0 victory each time.
That will not happen in the Six Nations, however, with a bye week still available for the fixture should it not go ahead at the weekend, and the predecent last year of games being played in October after postponements due to the first coronavirus lockdown.
The Six Nations administration released a statement saying a decision on whether the game would take place on Sunday would be made on Wednesday.
“A meeting of the Six Nations Testing Oversight Group took place today to review the situation in France in relation to the Covid-19 outbreak in the French team,” it read.
“The group was advised by the FFR representative that all players who returned to the National Training Centre were tested on arrival and out in isolation pending results.
“All five players who tested positive had now left the training base. The rest of the squad, all of who tested negative, are training wiht restricted movement and no close contact for the next 48 hours. Players and staff will be tested every 24 hours.
“The group will reconvene on Wednesday February 24 to review the situation. A decision on whether the France v Scotland fixture can go ahead will be made at that stage.
“Should the decision be that the fixture cannot go ahead, the match wuill be rescheduled for the earliest possible date.”
The Scottish squad also underwent testing on their return to training camp after being allowed out of the “bio bubble” at Oriam in Edinburgh for the bye week.