French government gives green light to Six Nations

This year’s edition of the Six Nations rugby union championship will go ahead as planned after the French government officially gave the green light to its national team competing.

The 2021 Six Nations is due to commence at the weekend, but there remained some uncertainty over France’s participation amid COVID-19. This year’s edition of the Women’s Six Nations was postponed to later in the year last month, with Six Nations Rugby stating at the time that it planned to stage the men’s tournament as scheduled.

France’s Six Nations campaign features away matches against Italy, Ireland and England, and the French government has been seeking assurances over safety protocols. The government has already ruled that its clubs cannot take part in European Professional Club Rugby’s (EPCR) Champions Cup and Challenge Cup, a decision that has forced the temporary suspension of the competitions.

The French government had given the green light for its national team to travel to Italy for the opening fixture in Rome on Saturday, but doubts remained over whether subsequent fixtures would be given the go-ahead.

However, Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu yesterday (Tuesday) confirmed the Six Nations would proceed as planned for France. She added, according to the AFP news agency: “It was a decision everyone in rugby was awaiting: the FFR (French Rugby Federation) submitted to us a rigorous, strict protocol, which was (then) submitted to the health authorities.

“The decision has been taken within government to ensure that the Six Nations championship is held on the scheduled date, starting February 6, with a bio-secure bubble, as was the case with the Tour de France.”

Maracineanu added that players would be excluded from periods of quarantine “since they will be tested every three days and remain in a closed bubble”.

The Six Nations will get underway on Saturday when Italy hosts France at the Stadio Olimpico (pictured) and England face Scotland at Twickenham. Wales will host Ireland at the Principality Stadium the following day.

Image: Miodzio3/CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size