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'I don't know if talks are still ongoing': The mystery surrounding France vs Scotland and whether Premiership players will be released

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Dan Mullan/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

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Nine days out from the suggested March 26 date for the rescheduling of the postponed France versus Scotland Guinness Six Nations match, Exeter boss Rob Baxter had revealed he is in the dark on whether the match is definitely going ahead and what the status is regarding the release of his Scottish internationals.


Baxter currently has Stuart Hogg, Jonny Gray and Sam Skinner away on international duty this week with Scotland who are playing Italy this Saturday at Murrayfield in round five of the championship.

Scotland boss Gregor Townsend suggested last week in the lead-up to last Sunday’s Six Nations game with Ireland that the Scots were preparing for the potential of having three matches to play on consecutive weekends.

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Scotland’s Finn Russell guests on RugbyPass Offload
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However, he added that the re-fixture with the French had not yet been confirmed and neither had the position concerning the released of their English and French-based players as the March 26 date falls outside the agreed Test match window governing player release.

It was last Friday when Townsend made those comments and Exeter boss Baxter was none the wiser five days later when asked what was the latest situation is regarding his Scotland contingent on a weekend when the Chiefs will be playing at Gloucester on the same night the Scots are potentially in Six Nations action at the Stade de France.

“I haven’t, no. Nothing at all,” replied Baxter when quizzed if there had been any update on France versus Scotland, the February 28 round three game that was postponed due to a virus outbreak in the French camp.


“I don’t know if talks are still ongoing, whether there has been a ‘this is what needs to happen’. I can’t quite fill you in. I imagine that Premiership Rugby will have made its stance on it to the Six Nations and it’s probably now for the Six Nations to either accept or decline it.

“That is what I imagine is what is happening. That is probably why we are still waiting to see what happens. Now I don’t know whether some of those decisions might be made depending on the rounds of games this week, whether that affects something or not.

“It could well be that there is still circumstances that will come out of this weekend that will change. I don’t know. I don’t want to make a comment on something I genuinely don’t know anything about.”

In the meantime, there has been speculation that second row Gray is nursing an injury with Scotland. “We have spoken to Johnny. He had a sore shoulder, he has had a scan on it. It hasn’t shown anything of concern,” explained Baxter.


“I know it’s bruised and it’s sore but there is not something there where they have seen an issue that needs fixing or needs resting. It’s just going to be Scotland’s decision on how sore he is over the course of the week.”

As for Skinner, who was left out by Scotland last weekend and instead started for Exeter in their win over Harlequins, he hasn’t been released to his club this week following Scottish training. “The fact that he has not been released back to us would suggest that he is involved in the (Scotland) 23 and that is the assumption we are working with here. We haven’t received Sam back so that sends out its own message.”





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