Six Nations: France v Scotland in doubt as hosts report six new Covid positives

  • Captain Charles Ollivon among latest to test positive
  • Decision to be made about Paris fixture on Wednesday
Captain Charles Ollivon (centre) is one of five French players to be found positive for Covid in the latest round of testing.
Captain Charles Ollivon (centre) is one of five French players to be found positive for Covid in the latest round of testing. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho/Shutterstock
Captain Charles Ollivon (centre) is one of five French players to be found positive for Covid in the latest round of testing. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho/Shutterstock

First published on Mon 22 Feb 2021 06.16 EST

The Six Nations organisers will make a call on whether to postpone France’s match against Scotland on Wednesday after the number of Covid-19 cases in the French squad hit double figures on Monday.

France remain hopeful that Sunday’s match will go ahead despite six positive tests on Monday, including the captain, Charles Ollivon, taking the total number of players infected to 11 and plunging the fixture into serious doubt. The head coach, Fabien Galthié, and three members of his staff have also tested positive.

The Six Nations’ contingency plan would most likely be to move the fixture back a week to the championship’s second fallow weekend but that could cause problems over player release. Scotland would need to reach an agreement with the English Premiership clubs to ensure access to a number of players, including their captain, Stuart Hogg, as well as Racing 92 for the release of the , Finn Russell.

The Scottish Rugby Union said: “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 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.”

France confirmed that Ollivon, Cyril Baille, Peato Mauvaka, Brice Dulin and Romain Taofifenua had tested positive and would be sent home. Gaetan Balot, Thierry Paiva, Cyril Cazeaux, Thomas Ramos and Baptiste Pesenti were summoned as replacements but Pesenti was later reported to have also tested positive.

Over the weekend Arthur Vincent, Julien Marchand, Gabin Villière and Mohamed Haouas all tested positive, after Antoine Dupont had done so on Friday. In total, nine of the 23-man squad from France’s victory against Ireland have tested positive and, while squad depth is less of a problem for the Six Nations leaders, tournament organisers are now facing a difficult decision.

The Breakdown

They will be eager to avoid postponing but were compelled to act after an outbreak in the Fiji camp during the Autumn Nations Cup and with the number of positive cases within the France squad swelling the fixture is increasingly in jeopardy.

The rest of the squad remains in isolation and will be tested every 24 hours in the hope that the fixture can take place in Paris. France also hope to return to full training on Wednesday.

The Six Nations said: “The testing oversight group will meet [on Wednesday] 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 No 1 priority. Should the decision be that the fixture cannot go ahead, the match will be rescheduled for the earliest possible date.”