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Ministers to probe France rugby boss Laporte on Friday over postponement farce

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Christophe Simon/AFP via Getty Images)

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France rugby boss Bernard Laporte will meet with government ministers on Friday who are demanding definitive answers as to why the French national team’s virus bubble was burst last month, resulting in the postponement of their February 28 match at home to Scotland.

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Rugby in France was in the throes of jubilation on Valentine’s Day when Fabien Galthie’s side followed up their opening round Guinness Six Nations win over Italy in Rome with the round two victory over Ireland in Dublin.

That sparked optimism that France were on course for a first title since 2011. However, this joy was quickly pierced by the outbreak of Covid-19 in the rugby camp, the contamination resulting in staff – including Galthie – and a dozen players testing positive for the virus.  

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A blame game has since erupted and amid disenchantment from rival Six Nations countries that the championship now can’t finish as planned on March 20 due to the need to reschedule the France vs Scotland game, FFR president Laporte will meet Jean-Michel Blanquer, Minister of National Education, Youth and Sports, and Roxana Maracineanu, Minister in charge of Sports, on Friday. 

The interview will examine the conclusions drawn by the internal investigation carried out by the French rugby federation into what went wrong inside Galthie’s squad. Maracineanu had requested an investigation by the FFR, while the Ministry of Health was also called on to shed light on the origin of the source of contamination.

So far, team boss Galthie has been cleared of wrongdoing despite leaving the bubble and attending a match in Paris in which his son was playing on February 7. It is said he is not patient zero. There has also been a focus on whether the French players went out on the street in Rome to eat waffles and break the sanitation bubble in Italy. 

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“I don’t think it was marked in the protocol that the players could go out to eat waffles. Or, if they go out to eat waffles, they had to be retested when they re-entered the bubble in contact with others,” said Maracineanu last week about a situation that has left the championship incomplete. March 26 is now the suggested date to stage the postponed Scotland match but that is not guaranteed.

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Ministers to probe France rugby boss Laporte on Friday over postponement farce

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