The Six Nations has been plunged into disarray after France’s match against Scotland was postponed following another positive Covid-19 test in Les Bleus’ camp on Thursday.
No date has been set for the fixture to be rescheduled and it is understood using next week’s fallow weekend is considered risky given ongoing concerns over the outbreak within the France squad.
Six Nations officials had given the match a cautious green light on Wednesday after a second consecutive day without any positive tests but they were compelled to act when the entire France squad was put into isolation after a player – reported to be Uini Atonio – tested positive. In total 12 players have now tested positive as well as four coaches since the initial outbreak emerged at the start of last week.
A hastily arranged meeting by the Six Nations’ testing oversight group on Thursday morning ultimately decided that it was no longer safe for Sunday’s match to go ahead. “The Six Nations testing oversight group (TOG) met today to review the situation in the French camp,” read a Six Nations statement. “They unanimously recommended the postponement of the France v Scotland match. This will be ratified later today by the Six Nations Council. We will be working on the rescheduling of this fixture and will communicate the date in due course.”
While the initial outbreak in the France squad took place in the first fallow week, the Six Nations’ worst fears have now been realised with the need to postpone the match. There is space in the schedule to move the match back by a weekend to the second fallow week but that is fraught with difficulty because Scotland have said they could be without more than 10 players who play in either the English Premiership or France’s Top 14.
It is understood however, that the Six Nations have concerns that delaying by a week comes with no guarantees that France would have contained the outbreak by then. That could leave organisers scrambling to find a suitable date after the competition is due to finish, thereby almost certainly ending hopes of a grandstand finish on the final weekend. As and when the Six Nations find a suitable date, player release will still be a sizeable hurdle to overcome.