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Two more France players join Dupont with positive Covid tests

Prop Mohamed Haouas and winger Gabin Villiere are the latest squad members to contract coronavirus.

France player Mohamed Haouas (file pic).
France player Mohamed Haouas (file pic).
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

COVID-19 CONTINUED to spread through France’s Six Nations squad on Saturday after prop Mohamed Haouas and winger Gabin Villiere followed scrum-half Antoine Dupont and coach Fabien Galthie in testing positive.

Before the players returned to France’s Marcoussis training centre after a Six Nations bye week, they underwent tests on Friday. 

Dupont, the Six Nations player of the year in 2020 who has played a big role in France’s two opening victories in this year’s tournament, was tested in the morning along with the other Toulouse internationals and his result announced in the afternoon. 

The French Rugby Federation (FFR) announced on Saturday that Haouas of Montpellier and Toulon’s Villiere returned positive tests later Friday.

The FFR said two other potential squad members, lock Swan Rebbadj and prop Jean-Baptiste Gros, both of Toulon, had been in contact with known positive coronavirus cases at their club.

The FFR announced later on Saturday that Karim Ghezal one of two forward coaches. had tested positive. The other forwards coach, William Servat, tested positive earlier in the week.

Galthie tested positive on Tuesday while Servat and a third unnamed coach did so on Wednesday.

A new list of 31 players summoned to Marcoussis to prepare for the match against Scotland on 28 February will be announced on Sunday. The three positive players could be on it.

In France, the quarantine period will increase to 10 days from Monday but was still seven days on Friday, which means Dupont could return to training next Friday and Haouas and Villiere on Saturday ahead of the game against Scotland in Paris on the Sunday.

France opened the Six Nations with victories in Rome on February 6 in the first round, when Dupont was named player of the round, and in Dublin in the second round on February.

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Dupont, Haouas and Villiere started both games. Gros came off the bench in Rome. 

After negotiations with the clubs and the government, France assembled a squad of 31 in a bubble in Nice at the end of January, but, along with other nations, decided to allow their players a break in the Six Nations bye week.

A long-delayed trial involving Haouas over 2014 robberies of tobacconists was postponed at the end of January because the player was in the France squad.   

© – AFP, 2021

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