Ten France players have dropped out of the squad to face Scotland after testing positive for Covid-19
Antoine Dupont tests positive for Covid
Ten France players have now been ruled out of thier Six Nations match against Scotland after testing positive for Covid-19.
France scrum-half Antoine Dupont was the first to return a positive test on Friday, two other players in the squad returned positive tests on Saturday – wing Gabin Villiere and prop Mohamed Haouas – and another two on Sunday, Julien Marchand and Arthur Vincent.
Then on Monday came the news that a further five players had tested positive, including captain Charles Ollivon. The others are Cyril Baille, Romain Taofifenua, Peato Mauvaka and Brice Dulin.
All players had tested negative at the start of last week but the French rugby federation (FFR) organised further rounds of testing following the news that head coach Fabien Galthie, forwards coach William Servat and another member of the back-room team had coronavirus earlier in the week.
Nine of the ten players who have tested positive were in the match-day 23 that faced Ireland in the previous round of matches, so this will cause huge disruption to the squad.
The FFR had announced a 31-player squad for the Scotland fixture on Sunday but have now had to make a further five changes due to the latest positive cases.
Gaetan Barlot, Thierry Paiva, Cyril Cazeaux, Baptiste Pesenti and Thomas Ramos have been called up, but the squad are not due to start training until Wednesday subject to the results of the latest Covid-19 tests, which are now being carried out every 24 hours.
France are currently top of the Six Nations table after wins over Italy and Ireland in the opening rounds. They are chasing their first Six Nations Grand Slam since 2010 and are due to play Scotland at the Stade de France on Sunday 28 February.
In the latest round of testing on Monday night, all players and management returned negative tests.
Six Nations organisers are monitoring the situation, with the Testing Oversight Group (TOG) due to make a decision on Wednesday evening as to whether the Scotland match should go ahead as planned or be postponed. If there are further positive cases, it is likely it would be rearranged. Playing it on the weekend of 6-7 March is a possibility, although that creates problems with regards player release from clubs as those dates are not covered by Regulation Nine.
A Six Nations statement read: “The TOG was advised by the French Rugby Union representative that all players who returned to the National Training Centre yesterday were tested on arrival and put in isolation pending results. All five players who tested positive have now left the training base.
“The rest of the squad, all of whom tested negative, are training with restricted movement and no close contact for the next 48 hours. All players and staff will be tested every 24 hours.
“The TOG will reconvene on Wednesday 24 February in the evening to review the situation. A decision on whether the France v Scotland fixture can go ahead will be made at that stage. Ensuring the health and safety of all players and staff is our number one priority. Should the decision be that the fixture cannot go ahead, the match will be rescheduled for the earliest possible date.
“Six Nations would like to wish all affected players, coaches, and support team a speedy recovery.”
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