Will the Six Nations Tournament take place? After the suspension of the next two days of the European Cup and European Rugby Challenge – to limit the circulation of the British variant of SARS-CoV-2, after the health protocol has shown its limits -, the question of the holding of the international competition, which is to take place from February 6 to March 20, arises.
The Minister of Sports, Roxana Maracineanu, requested, Tuesday January 12, that the greatest number of health guarantees be taken for the trips of the French rugby team to Ireland and England on the occasion of the Tournament.
“We need to have the necessary guarantees from the teams opposite to be sure of what we are doing, in human and financial terms, to allow our national teams to be nickel”, explained Mme Maracineanu, a few hours after a technical meeting between the supervisory ministry and the French Rugby Federation (FFR) to discuss the organization and health protocol planned for the competition.
A “reinforced health protocol”
The organizers of the Six Nations – who are not the same as those of the European Cups – must still communicate to the French authorities their detailed protocol to ensure the impermeability of the “bubbles” in which the teams will evolve. But according to information from World, the FFR assured the ministry that the six teams (England, France, Wales, Ireland, Scotland and Italy) will have strictly the same instructions to follow, which has not always been the case in the European Cup.
A “Health protocol strengthened compared to the fall” – the end of the previous Tournament had then taken place without being disturbed by the pandemic linked to Covid-19 – will be in place, ensures the Committee of Six Nations. These measures should allow the Six Nations to be held on the scheduled dates, at least for the men: the organizers plan to postpone the women’s and youth tournament.
The first meeting, which must oppose the XV of France to Italy in Rome, on February 6, does not “Shouldn’t be a problem”, estimated the minister in view of the health situation on the spot. ” On the other hand, against Ireland [le 14 février] and England [le 13 mars], we absolutely must obtain the necessary guarantees ”, she said.
On Monday, the two European Rugby Cups were suspended “At least until the beginning of February” due to the health context, their organizer announced, after the decision of the French government to ask the Top 14 clubs “To postpone their participation” to these competitions, due to the very rapid expansion in the UK of a more contagious variant of the coronavirus.