Scotland may be without all of their English-based players for next weekend’s rescheduled Six Nations match against France.
The round three match, postponed after a COVID-19 outbreak in the France squad that saw 12 players and four members of management test positive, has been re-arranged for next Friday night at the Stade de France.
However, as it falls out with World Rugby’s designated Test window, Scotland could be without captain Stuart Hogg, his Exeter Chiefs team-mates Jonny Gray and Sam Skinner, plus more than a dozen others.
A Six Nations spokesperson said “discussions are ongoing” around player release.
Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has said previously he wants all of his English-based players available for the trip to Paris.
He reiterated that stance earlier today: “Discussions I believe are going ahead with PRL and the Six Nations to make sure we have all our players available. That’s the part that has not been completed or agreed yet.
“We want the game to go ahead as I imagine most rugby supporters would want it as close as possible to the Six Nations.”
Townsend added that he felt having all his squad available was “the only way to make this tournament as true and proper as it should be.
“It’s the biggest tournament in world rugby outside the World Cup and we obviously don’t want to go into a game where we are not allowed to pick certain players.”
The Scotland boss was asked whether he would consider refusing to play if his Exiles are not released: “I don’t think I would have that power,” he replied.
Maniacal DMac grin ?
Gratuitous banana kick ?
3 mins on the ??
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 18, 2021
“Ultimately, if the six nations agree that we have to play then we will have to play, but I’m hoping that’s not the case and then all our players are available. I did read a few weeks ago that the principle was there to release the players and I hope that principle becomes a reality within the next few hours so we can book flights and let our players know they have a game next week.”
Townsend does expect to have Finn Russell available for the Stade de France clash, with the stand-off not displaying any symptoms of concussion after his head injury against Ireland, and likely to be released by Racing 92 to play.
“I believe that on that side everything is sorted and the French clubs have come to an agreement with the Six Nations. Racing have a couple of French players as well as one from Scotland,” Townsend added.
Six Nations also stated that a lockdown set to come in to force in 16 French regions at midnight on Friday – including Paris – is unlikely to have any impact on the match going ahead.
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now