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Turbulent Times

Autumn Nations Cup match between Fiji and France cancelled following Covid cases

Five players in the Fiji team have tested positive for the virus.

FRANCE’S OPENING MATCH in the new Autumn Nations Cup on Sunday has been cancelled after five players in the Fiji team they were due to meet tested positive for coronavirus. 

Competition organisers said the decision to cancel the match, which was due to be staged in Vannes, Brittany, was taken after test results on Friday showed up four more positive Covid-19 cases among the Fijians following one earlier case on Tuesday.

Bristol back Semi Radradra, who was left out of the 23-man Fiji matchday squad announced earlier on Friday, is one of the infected players, according to a source close to the Fijian team.

These latest cases follow the six positive tests involving members of the Pacific Islanders’ Autumn Nations Cup set-up at the start of the month.

“Due to the tight schedule of the competition it is unfortunately not possible to reschedule this match,” organisers said, adding that the sporting result of the game would be determined at a meeting on Monday.

Organisers said they were working closely with the Fiji Rugby Union “to take all necessary measures to mitigate the impact of the outbreak and to ensure that preparations can resume on time for Fiji’s next match against Italy on 21 November”.

“It is premature to have any views on the staging of this match prior to a further series of tests which are due to take place in the coming days,” they said.

The France management cancelled the scheduled midday press conference announcing their 23-man squad.

“Obviously, there is sadness but if there are several cases of Covid and contact cases, good decisions have to be made and health comes before everything else,” said Olivier Cloarec, the president of Vannes rugby club.

“But we are obviously sad because we are not able to host the XV of France just yet.”

According to local media, the French players have been given permission to return to their clubs and possibly play in the Top 14 over the weekend before returning to the national training centre at Marcoussis on Monday. 

Following an agreement between the FFR and the French league, les Bleus squad members will only be able to feature in a maximum of three matches this autumn.

After two victories in two matches, in preparation, a friendly against Wales then the closing Six Nations game against Ireland, the resurgent French were due to play their third match of the autumn period behind closed doors.

Fabien Galthie’s team will also face Scotland and Italy later this month in the Autumn Nations Cup as well as a classification match in early December — providing the coronavirus does not intercede further.

After their match against Italy, Fiji are due to take on Scotland on 28 November.

The Top 14 match between Lyon and Clermont, which was also due to be played on Sunday, has also been called off for similar reasons after at least three cases of Covid-19 were detected in the Lyon ranks. 

© – AFP, 2020

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