The situation is not improving for French rugby and the good start made in the Six Nations Tournament could well come to an end. After their coach, three members of the staff and five players, it is five new rugby players of the XV of France – including the captain, Charles Ollivon – who have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, announced Monday, February 22 the French federation of rugby.
Toulouse’s Cyril Baille and Peato Mauvaka, Toulonnais Romain Taofifenua and Charles Ollivon as well as Rochelais Brice Dulin will therefore not be able to face Scotland on Sunday in the Six Nations Tournament.
Their screening brings to fourteen the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 within the selection and management, of which two members are also considered as suspected cases.
Five players called in as reinforcements
Hooker Gaëtan Barlot (no selection, Castres Olympique), pillar Thierry Paiva (no selection, Union Bordeaux Bègles), second row Cyril Cazeaux (no selection, Union Bordeaux Bègles), third row Baptiste Pesenti (two selections, Section Paloise ) and back Thomas Ramos (fourteen selections, Stade Toulousain) were called in as reinforcements.
“With a view to isolation, the return to the home of the players and members of the management concerned is underway”, specifies the press release of the Federation. “The return to collective training is fixed [pour le] Wednesday February 24, subject to the results of tests carried out every twenty-four hours “, again indicates the instance.
The XV of France, leading the Six Nations Tournament after the first two days (two successes obtained in Italy 50 to 10 then in Ireland 15 to 13), must receive Scotland at the Stade de France, before going to England on March 13 and then face Wales the following week.
At the rate things are going, it is a B team that France could have to align against the Scots. If necessary, the French staff have the possibility of completely renewing the workforce and summoning 31 players who have not taken part in the life of the Blues – and in the victories in Italy (50-10) and Ireland (15-13 ) -, to ensure a “healthy” group before facing Scotland.
If the health situation deteriorates, the match can also, theoretically, be postponed. During the weekend, the Six Nations committee assured to follow the situation closely, while specifying, however, not to think of postponing the match between France and Scotland.
“The competition leaves no room for worry”, estimated the manager of the Blues, Raphaël Ibanez in the program Stade 2 Sunday evening. “We are entering a week of preparation and I can assure you that we will be ready to face Scotland at the Stade de France, he also promised. We have prepared an adaptation plan, you can trust Fabien (Galthié). If other cases turn out to be positive, we have in any case taken exceptional measures with the help of the Covid unit which watches over the France group. The tests will be tripled, we will have a test every day “.