SCOTLAND will find out on Wednesday night whether their Six Nations clash against France will go ahead as scheduled on Sunday.
With five new positive Covid test results reported by the Fédération Française de Rugby [FFR] this [Monday] morning, the total number of officially confirmed cases amongst the French playing group is up to 10. Meanwhile, French media is reporting that second-row Baptiste Pesenti – who was called into the squad as emergency cover on Sunday – tested positive at his club before making the switch to the national camp.
The remainder of the squad French will train “with restricted movement and no close contact” for the next 48 hours and be tested every 24 hours.
While it is clear that Six Nations, Scotland and France are all very keen for the game to go ahead on Sunday, that will presumably depend on there being no, or very few, new Covid cases before Wednesday’s meeting of the Six Nations Testing Oversight Group.
If the game can’t be played on Sunday, then a rescheduling is the preferred option, however pushing it back to the following weekend – which is currently a fallow week – would open up a can of worms in terms of World Rugby’s Regulation 9 which governs player release from clubs for international duty.
A statement issued by Six Nations explained:
A meeting of the Six Nations Testing Oversight Group (TOG) took place today to review the situation in France in relation to the COVID-19 outbreak in the French team.
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.
A statement issued by Scottish Rugby said:
“Scotland’s national team are continuing their preparations to play France in Paris on Sunday. Our players, coaches and fans hope the game can go ahead as planned in the existing tournament schedule.
“Any postponement will have an impact on the player release agreement in place with clubs, which could see more than 10 Scotland players unavailable for selection if the game is rearranged.
“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.”
Meanwhile, the 2023 Rugby World Cup has been extended by a week to ensure that all teams will have at least five days preparation for all matches, with squad sizes increased from 31 to 33 to further assist preparation.