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Dublin: 7°C Sunday 18 April 2021

French government demands more detail before final Six Nations decision

The Ministry of Sport wants guarantees about the Covid-19 protocols in Ireland and England.

France are due to play Ireland in Dublin on 14 February.
France are due to play Ireland in Dublin on 14 February.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

THE FRENCH GOVERNMENT is demanding more detail on Covid-19 protocols in Ireland and the UK before giving its national rugby team permission to play all of their 2021 Six Nations fixtures.

Reports in France say that the Ministry of Sport has given the green light for les Bleus to play their Six Nations opener against Italy in Rome on Saturday 6 February.

However, French Minister of Sport, Roxana Mărăcineanu, is said to be looking for guarantees from authorities in Ireland and England that their Covid-19 protocols are as stringent as those that exist in France before making a final call on the national team’s two other away games.

The French government is thought to be concerned about a new strain of Covid-19 in the UK and Ireland.

France are scheduled to travel to Dublin to face Andy Farrell’s Ireland on 14 February before a home clash against Scotland, a trip to face England in London on 13 March, then a home game versus Wales.

“The first game will be played against Italy,” Mărăcineanu told RMC Sport.

“On the other hand, for the games against Ireland and England, we really need to obtain the necessary guarantees from these countries to show us that their protocols are as demanding and serious as the ones we have in France.

“When there are international meetings, we endanger, in a way, the health of these athletes.

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“So we have to have guarantees about what we are committing to as a means to preserve the health of athletes, and this must be the same in all countries.”

Mărăcineanu’s call for more detail followed a meeting between the Ministry of Sport and the French Rugby Federation.

Six Nations organisers remain optimistic that this year’s championship will be played out as currently scheduled.

“We are planning to hold the Championship as scheduled in each country with Covid-19 protocols that have been reinforced from the October/November period that saw the successful conclusion of the 2020 Guinness Six Nations and the Autumn Nations Cup,” reads a Six Nations statement.

Yesterday, the French government directed its Top 14 clubs not to play in cross-border competitions this month, resulting in the suspension of the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup.

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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