REUTERS: The French government has said it needs guarantees from England and Ireland that the national rugby team can travel safely to Six Nations matches during the COVID-19 pandemic.
French Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu said France’s opening match against Italy in Rome on February 6 had been canceled.
France are next set to face Ireland at Aviva Stadium on February 14 and England at Twickenham on March 13.
“We keep the first game,” Maracineanu told reporters. “On the other hand, against Ireland and England, we absolutely need the necessary guarantees from these countries.
“There must be proof that other nations’ antivirus frameworks meet the same precautionary requirements. We expect the same from other teams. ”
The UK government has allowed elite sport to continue despite the country being placed in strict lockdown amid an increase in COVID-19 cases.
Several countries recently closed their borders with Great Britain and South Africa after new variants of the new coronavirus were identified in those two countries.
The European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup have been suspended after the French government recommended the postponement of matches against British clubs.
The president of the French rugby federation, Bernard Laporte, however, said he remained optimistic about the achievement of the Six Nations as planned.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)