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Dublin: 0°C Thursday 6 May 2021

Farrell's Ireland still Covid-free as France wonder if their outbreak started in Dublin

Les Bleus’ Six Nations hopes have been hit hard with key players now ruled out of the Scotland game.

Ireland captain Johnny Sexton is due back from a head injury this weekend.
Ireland captain Johnny Sexton is due back from a head injury this weekend.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

IRELAND’S SIX NATIONS camp remains Covid-19-free despite their most recent opponents, France, being hit by growing numbers of positive tests.

14 France players and staff have tested positive since their clash with Ireland in Dublin on Sunday 14 February, with key men like Antoine Dupont, Brice Dulin, and captain Charles Ollivon now ruled out of this weekend’s scheduled clash with Scotland in Paris.

However, Ireland assistant coach Mike Catt reported that their squad has not recorded any positive tests since the meeting with the French.

“We all got tested three times [last] week, we’ve had a test this morning, so again we are Covid-free as we currently stand,” said Catt this afternoon.

“We’re very happy with the way things are going. The players have been exceptional in sticking to their protocols and our protocols. That’s all we currently can do and at the moment we’re going pretty well on that.”

France’s growing list of cases comes after they trained with members of the France 7s squad in the build-up to their trip to Dublin for the Ireland game. 

The France 7s squad has also since had an outbreak of Covid-19 cases but France 15s manager Raphaël Ibañez has defended their set-up amidst questioning from the French media.

“It is not uniquely a French issue,” said Ibanez.

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“The head coach of England [Eddie Jones] was affected by it, and others too. Nobody can know how this happened. Was it in Ireland? Why not through the media who were allowed in to watch training? It only takes one infected person for the contamination to take hold in others.

“What has happened only motivates us more to put on a great performance against Scotland.”

Meanwhile, Ireland attack coach Catt reported that all 36 of the players selected in Andy Farrell’s squad this week are fit and available to feature against Italy in Rome on Saturday.

Captain Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray, Dave Kilcoyne, and James Ryan missed out on the France game due to injuries but are all in line to return against the Italians.

“What I’ve been told is that everybody is fit and raring to go, which is great,” said Catt. “It is always great to start a week with a full squad.”

Ireland had initially hoped that Ulster’s Jacob Stockdale would link in with the squad this week but Catt said the 24-year-old was still not available.

“I’m not sure, I think he had a bit of a setback,” said Catt. “I could be wrong but he hasn’t been available this week and we haven’t considered him for coming in this week.” 

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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