All clear for Ireland but Covid chaos in French squad

All clear for Ireland but Covid chaos in French squad

France captain Charles Ollivon has been ruled out of the game against Scotland with Covid. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Andy Farrell’s Ireland continues to test negative for Covid-19 despite the growing numbers of positive cases in the French camp since the sides met in Dublin two weekends ago.

The senior men’s squad was tested three times last week, as opposed to the usual two, and once again yesterday as preparations stepped up for next Saturday’s game against Italy in Rome.

“We’re very happy with the way things are going,” said attack coach Mike Catt. “The players have been exceptional in sticking to their protocols and our protocols. That’s all we currently can do and at the moment we’re going pretty well on that.”

The virus has caused chaos with the French squad. Scotland will find out tomorrow if their Guinness Six Nations clash in Paris will go ahead after France confirmed another five players had tested positive for coronavirus.

Les Bleus are due to host Gregor Townsend’s team at the Stade de France on Sunday but the game has been thrown into doubt after an outbreak among Fabien Galthie’s squad.

The latest test results mean captain Charles Ollivon has been ruled out of the game — if it goes ahead — along with Cyril Baille, Peato Mauvaka, Romain Taofifenua, and Brice Dulin.

The French Rugby Federation has confirmed that two members of its management team are also suspected cases.

Head coach Galthie and star scrum-half Antoine Dupont are already among those in self-isolation.

Six Nations chiefs plan to meet again tomorrow night to decide if their showdown with the Scots can go ahead.

The Six Nations said in a statement: “A meeting of the Six Nations Testing Oversight Group (TOG) took place today to review the situation in France in relation to the Covid-19 outbreak in the French team.

“The TOG was advised by the French Rugby Union representative that all players who returned to the National Training Centre yesterday were tested on arrival and put in isolation pending results. All five players who tested positive have now left the training base.

“The rest of the squad, all of whom tested negative, are training with restricted movement and no close contact for the next 48 hours. All players and staff will be tested every 24 hours.

“The TOG will reconvene on Wednesday to review the situation. A decision on whether the France v Scotland fixture can go ahead will be made at that stage..”

Scotland are keen for the game to go ahead on Sunday as a postponement could mean more than 10 squad members are unavailable for the rearranged match due to the player-release agreement in place with clubs.

A statement from the Scottish Rugby Union last night read: “Scotland’s national team are continuing their preparations to play France in Paris on Sunday. Our players, coaches and fans hope the game can go ahead in the existing tournament schedule.

“Any postponement will have an impact on the player-release agreement in place with clubs, which could see more than 10 Scotland players unavailable for selection if the game is rearranged.

“We will be working closely with our Six Nations counterparts to press the case for this game to go ahead, should it be medically safe to do so.”

Gaetan Balot, Thierry Paiva, Cyril Cazeaux, Baptiste Pesenti and Thomas Ramos have now been called into a new-look 31-man France squad.

The FFR revealed on Sunday that centre Arthur Vincent and hooker Julien Marchand had tested positive for coronavirus, joining Dupont, Gabin Villiere and Mohamed Haouas in isolation.

Galthie and his assistant William Servat also tested positive earlier this week and have been placed in quarantine.

France are top of the championship after two rounds of fixtures, with wins against Italy and Ireland.

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