Rugby: France await decision on Scotland Six Nations clash after Covid-19 cases

France players during training in Marcoussis, south of Paris, on Feb 11, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP, Reuters) - The French Rugby Federation (FFR) said on Tuesday (Feb 23) there had been no further positive Covid-19 tests among its playing squad or backroom staff as they continue preparations for this weekend's Six Nations game against Scotland in Paris.

The FFR had announced on Monday that five players - captain Charles Ollivon, Cyril Baille, Peato Mauvaka, Romain Taofifenua and Brice Dulin - have been withdrawn from the squad after contracting the virus.

The new cases take the total number in the France camp to 14, including coach Fabien Galthie and scrum-half Antoine Dupont.

The players that tested positive have all been replaced in the 31-man squad.

Six Nations officials said over the weekend they were confident the game in Paris would go ahead.

But organisers said on Monday their Testing Oversight Group (TOG) reviewed the situation and would reconvene on Wednesday, although there is no suggestion as yet of postponing the match.

"A decision on whether the France v Scotland fixture can go ahead will be made at that stage," said the TOG in a statement.

"Should the decision be that the fixture cannot go ahead, the match will be rescheduled for the earliest possible date."

The French players who tested positive on Monday have all left the group, with the remainder of the squad, all of whom tested negative, training with restricted movement and no close contact for the next 48 hours.

"The return to collective training is set for Wednesday subject to the results of tests carried out every 24 hours," the federation said in a statement.

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.

France are top of the Six Nations table after beating Italy comfortably in Rome and then edging Ireland 15-13 in Dublin on February 14.

Team manager Raphael Ibanez said on Sunday, before the latest positive tests, that the French were fully expecting to meet the Scots.

"We are entering a week of preparation and I can assure you that we will be ready to face Scotland at the Stade de France," said the former France captain.

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