Every day we publish a selection of key news stories from the business of sport, to give you a taste of the in-depth news, data, insight and analysis available when you subscribe to GlobalData’s Sport Intelligence Center. If you are interested in finding out more about accessing our Sport Intelligence Center, please click here or contact us at email@example.com
Rugby union - 13 Jan 2021
The French government has said it must see both England and Ireland’s coronavirus restriction plans before allowing its men’s national rugby union team to travel to those countries for games in the upcoming Six Nations.
Although the government has given the green light for France’s opening Six Nations fixture, against Italy in Rome on 6 February, there is more concern amongst the authorities around two of the team’s next games - away to Ireland on 14 February, and then away to England on 13 March.
Between those two fixtures, France will play Scotland in Paris on 28 February.
Earlier this week, the government barred French rugby union clubs from taking part in the pan-European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup for the foreseeable future because of concerns over the spread of a new coronavirus mutation, believed to have originated in the UK.
The Women’s Six Nations, which normally runs parallel with the men's competition, is set to be pushed back to April.
Roxana Maracineanu, France’s sports minister, has said: “With Ireland and England… We absolutely need the necessary guarantees from these countries… Other nations’ virus frameworks must respect the same requirements [as ours], in terms of precaution.”
Talks are being held presently between the Six Nations and French sporting authorities in Paris, to decide on a set of measures for all countries that will ensure French participation, particularly with regard to the team’s safety while travelling to Dublin and then London for the matches.
Numerous countries have closed their borders to travellers from the UK because of the new strain of the virus, although elite-level sport in the UK is still going ahead, with specific precautions being taken at each event.
Bernard Laporte, president of the FFR, the French Rugby Federation, has said previously that despite the situation in the UK and Ireland, he expects the Six Nations to go ahead, as does England's Rugby Football Union.
The final matches from the 2020 Six Nations were delayed by around six months due to Covid-19, and the resulting travel restrictions, and eventually took place at the end of October.
Elsewhere, the Premier15s competition, English women’s rugby union top-tier league, will be suspended for two weeks at least, to help reduce the spread of the virus.
Rounds 11 and 12 have both been suspended, with a provisional restart date of 30 January, but the RFU is expected to confirm the restart as soon as the dates for the Women’s Six Nations are confirmed.
Despite no testing throughout the league, matches have continued to be played during the ongoing UK lockdown.