Six Nations: France-Scotland postponed after 11 COVID cases

Scotland's Six Nations match against France on Sunday has been postponed, due to several positive COVID-19 cases in the French squad.

France have been battling an outbreak of COVID-19 and registered their 11th positive case on Thursday.

There were hopes this match would go ahead, with France registering negative tests on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Six Nations declared the match would proceed as planned on Wednesday, despite France having several players ruled out.

On Wednesday, France returned to contact training. However on Thursday, France announced another member of their party had tested positive for COVID-19 and training was suspended.

A Six Nations Rugby official statement said: "The Six Nations Testing Oversight Group (TOG) met today to review the situation in the French Camp.

"They unanimously recommended the postponement of the France vs. 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."

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The organisers face a logistical headache to work out when to play the match. The game could be played next weekend, but as the Test would fall on a fallow weekend outside of the original schedule, Scotland may not be able to call on their players who are in the Gallagher Premiership due to World Rugby regulations.

If the match was rescheduled to next weekend, the Scottish Rugby Union would need to find agreement with Premiership Rugby to secure release of a number of players which include captain Stuart Hogg, Jonny Gray, Cornell de Preez, Scott Steele, Chris Harris, James Lang, Duncan Taylor and Sean Maitland.

Another option would be to play the match midweek, prior to one of the final two rounds of the tournament. Scotland coach Gregor Townsend said the postponement was a disappointment.

"We have had a good week with our players who were focussed and ready to represent their country in Paris and continue our progress in this year's Six Nations," he said. "Throughout this tournament, and the previous Autumn Nations Cup, we have worked hard to maintain strict COVID protocols which have enabled us to select our strongest possible teams for these important international fixtures.

"We will wait to see what options are available to play this match against France, but it remains our position that we want to have all our eligible players available to us for that fixture, so we can compete to the level we would have done this weekend," he added.

France face scrutiny from the Six Nations and their own government after this latest positive result. The France sports minister has asked FFR president Bernard Laporte to investigate the series of cases.

"It's always hard to know the origin [of the outbreak]," Laporte told France Info radio on Thursday, before the latest case was announced.

"I would like to know. Of course it is something that worries me. I would like to know if someone is at fault, or not. We are going to investigate this ourselves to see how we got there."

France were due to name their team for Scotland on Friday. They would have been without Cyril Baille, Peato Mauvaka, Romain Taofifenua, Charles Ollivon and Brice Dulin who returned positive tests on Sunday, while Arthur Vincent, Julien Marchand, Gabin Villiere, Mohamed Haouas and Antoine Dupont all tested positive last week, along with coach Fabien Galthie and three other staff members.

France lead the standings with two wins from two games, ahead of Wales on points difference, as they seek to lift the Six Nations title for the first time since 2010.

Information from Reuters contributed to this report.