Six Nations officials will have urgent talks with the French government on Monday after the championship was plunged into doubt over the imposition of a ban on elite cross-border sport with clubs in the UK.
As revealed by Sport Telegraph On Saturday, the French Sports Ministry’s decision in response to the spike in Covid-19 infections in the UK led to the postponement of the final two rounds of the Heineken Champions Cup, which were due to resume on Friday.
There are now fears that the travel ban could also have serious implications for the Six Nations, which is due to start on February 6, as if it were still in effect at that time, it could prevent France from participating. . Reverberations from the disruption of the season are also likely to put additional pressure on the British and Irish Lions’ tour of South Africa later this year.
Six Nations officials remain optimistic about the success of the representations to the French government, but there are fears that the spread of the new variant of the coronavirus across the Channel will lead to a deterioration of the situation in France in the coming weeks.
With the sport already facing serious financial difficulties due to the lack of crowds during the pandemic, a further disruption of the Six Nations would represent a major setback.
The weather is for now at least in favor of the Six Nations, while officials also hope to convince the French government that the strict protocols of Covid-19 will minimize any risk of the virus spreading.
France, due to open their Six Nations campaign against Italy in Rome on February 6, are not expected to host a match in Paris before Scotland’s visit on February 28 and will not travel to the UK before March 13 for their match against England at Twickenham.
Given that the Football Champions League is also set to resume in February, with Paris Saint-Germain set to face Barcelona on February 16, Six Nations sources said there was also hope that a “coordinated approach from governments Europeans ”is possible.
Sources have also indicated that the Six Nations would not proceed without the participation of France, which opens the possibility of a postponement of the championship to a later date this season if the French government persists with a travel ban.
Reports that the Six Nations could be organized in one country were also dismissed. A spokesperson for the Six Nations insisted that plans remain in place for the tournament to go as planned.
“We plan to hold the championship as planned in each country with the Covid-19 protocols which have been strengthened from the period of October and November which saw the success of the Guinness Six Nations 2020 and the ANC. ”
The Champions Cup and Challenge Cup are yet to be canceled despite the postponement of the peak of the group stages, and further discussions will take place on how to end them.
The French Minister of Sports said on Saturday that he had written to the National Rugby League (LNR) to “invite its clubs to postpone its next matches, in accordance with the wishes expressed by French professional clubs in recent days.
“In addition, the Ministry of Sports has carried out a census of all sporting events that will take place in France in the coming weeks, including with British participants, as well as projections of trips involving French sports organizations on British soil . From Monday, the ministry will meet the sports federations and the event organizers concerned ”.
Losing the last two rounds of European action will also be a blow to Eddie Jones’ preparations for England’s defense of their Six Nations title, given the lack of playing time before their opener against Scotland at Twickenham on February 6.
The LNR and Pro14 are now planning to use reserve weekends to rearrange games that were postponed earlier in the season due to the virus.
The Lions board is due to meet at the end of this month to determine whether or not the South Africa tour can go as planned in July and August, with options on the table, including a postponement to the next year or play the tour behind closed doors.