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'Obviously it is a concern' - Skinner hopes clubs will allow Scotland access to top players

By PA
Scotland's Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell. (Photo by Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images)

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Sam Skinner has called on English and French clubs to come up with a fair solution to allow Scotland to have access to their top stars for their postponed Guinness Six Nations clash with France. Last week’s Stade de France showdown was axed after a Covid-19 outbreak in Fabien Galthie’s Les Bleus squad.

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Tournament organisers have now pencilled in March 26 as the new date for the game, which the French will hope will see them wrap up the Grand Slam after kicking off the competition with back-to-back wins.

But Gregor Townsend will require the blessing of Gallagher Premiership and Top 14 chiefs to include his list of 10 exiles – including Racing 92 ace Finn Russell and Exeter’s Stuart Hogg – in the Scotland squad as it falls outside the international window.

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The Dark Blues coach is still waiting for the green light but Hogg’s Chiefs team-mate Skinner is confident a deal can be struck.

The big back row said: “There’s so much going on in the world at the minute that I’ll play wherever I’m supposed to play. It’s out of my control.

“I haven’t spoken to the guys about it. Obviously it is a concern. You’d like to think the solution can be resolved and there’s a way around it.

“I don’t know the politics behind it. I imagine money is involved.

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“You’d like to think there’s a solution there and you want the top players available to play for Scotland because that could be a hell of a game against France.

“You don’t want what happened in the autumn when France played their second or third team. That was a shame. For the sport you want everyone to be available.”

Scotland and France were both awarded a 28-0 win when clashes against Fiji were called off during the Autumn Nations Cup as the virus swept through the Pacific Islanders’ bubble.

But Six Nations chiefs are insistent the games in their competition take place and Skinner agrees.

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“I think the game should go ahead,” he said.

“At Exeter, we lost to Toulouse in the Champions Cup technically because of the same situation. Everyone’s in the same boat and if there’s a way of making the game go ahead, let’s make it happen.

“It’s a great fixture and we don’t want freebie points at all.”

Skinner has not played for Scotland since they collapsed 31-16 after a promising start in Dublin back in November.

But he is hoping to get another crack at Andy Farrell’s team after being recalled by Townsend for Sunday’s Six Nations encounter with the Irish at Murrayfield.

“It’s huge, I’m extremely grateful,” he said. “You never take these call-ups for granted.

“I was gutted and disappointed not to be involved from the start of the tournament. I tried to control what I could control and play as well as I could.

“I played in the last game against Ireland and they’re a quality side. The way they’re talking and playing, they seem to be in a strong and confident place so there’s a hell of a battle coming up this weekend and I can’t wait to get stuck in.”

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'Obviously it is a concern' - Skinner hopes clubs will allow Scotland access to top players

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