6N: France-Scotland to be postponed after another virus case

MARCOUSSIS, France (AP) — The Six Nations match between France and Scotland on Sunday will be postponed, organizers said on Thursday after an 11th French player tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Six Nations testing oversight group unanimously recommended the match in Paris be postponed and “this will be ratified later today by the Six Nations council,” it said in a statement.

“We will be working on the rescheduling of this fixture and will communicate the date in due course.”

The game was given the go-ahead on Wednesday despite 10 France players — including captain Charles Ollivon and star scrumhalf Antoine Dupont — testing positive for COVID-19 in checks over the past week. Coach Fabien Galthie tested positive soon after the win against Ireland in Dublin on Feb. 14.

An 11th player, as yet unnamed, then tested positive following another round of checks late Wednesday, prompting training to be suspended on Thursday and the French squad to go back into isolation.

The decision to postpone the game now puts Scotland in a difficult position, especially if it is rearranged for next week.

Scottish Rugby said this week that such a rearrangement could leave the team without 10 players because those based in England and France will be released back to their clubs for domestic duty under World Rugby’s player-release regulations.

The rest week for the tournament lies outside of World Rugby’s designated international window.

France leads the Six Nations after away wins over Italy and Ireland. Scotland has one win and one loss.

Now France’s momentum has been halted and fingers are being pointed.

On Wednesday, sports daily L’Equipe reported that Galthie breached protocol by going outside of the bubble before the Ireland game. Galthie has denied any wrongdoing. The newspaper also said some players went out to eat in Rome before the match against Italy.

FFR president Bernard Laporte said he did not know the origin of the outbreak.

“It’s always difficult to know the origin. No one knows it,” Laporte said. “I would like to know, to tell you the truth. It’s been bothering me and I would really like to know if someone made a mistake or not.”

But French sports minister Roxane Maracineanu has ordered an internal investigation into what happened, and Laporte has backed her up.

“We want to know how we arrived at this point, because it’s true that the protocol is very strict. As far as I know, there hasn’t been a mistake made within the team,” Laporte said. “I hope not, and the first person to lead the inquiry and to find out the truth is me. But I find it hard to imagine.”

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