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Question mark hangs over Six Nations as French government makes latest worrying statement

By PA

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The French government is demanding reassurances on safety from England and Ireland before allowing the France national side coached by Fabien Galthie to visit those countries during the upcoming 2021 Six Nations tournament. Only the championship’s opening fixture against Italy in Rome on February 6 has been approved by Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu.

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The French authorities have concerns over the soaring number of Covid-19 cases in the UK and Ireland and have already barred their clubs from taking part in European competition this month. The Six Nations held talks with Paris on Tuesday and discussions will be ongoing as organisers attempt to convince the government that sufficient coronavirus protocols are in place.

It is highly unlikely the tournament would go ahead without France, who play Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on February 14 and England at Twickenham on March 13. “We keep the first match,” Maracineanu told a press conference. “On the other hand, against Ireland and England, we absolutely need to have the necessary guarantees from these countries.

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“There has to be proof that the other nations’ virus framework respects the same requirements in terms of precaution. We expect the same thing from the other teams.”

The Women’s Six Nations and Under-20s competitions, which are traditionally run in tandem with the men’s, are set to be postponed until April and May with official confirmation of their delay expected on Wednesday.

 

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France announced their 37-strong men’s Six Nations squad on Monday, a selection by Fabien Galthie that included three uncapped players – winger Donovan Taofifenua and prop Georges-Henri Colombe of Racing and Stade Francais centre Julien Delbouis. 

Fresh from an encouraging autumn programme that culminated in a second-place 2020 Six Nations finish and taking England to extra-time at Twickenham in the final of the Autumn Nations Cup, the squad will train in Nice from January 25 to February 5 before flying to Rome to open a championship schedule that has them away to Ireland in Dublin in round two on February 14.

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Question mark hangs over Six Nations as French government makes latest worrying statement

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