Six Nations in danger as France considers rugby travel ban over virus fears

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                Des discussions sur les Six Nations auront lieu la semaine prochaine après que le gouvernement français ait recommandé samedi aux clubs de rugby de reporter les prochains matchs de Coupe d'Europe avec les équipes britanniques nationales en raison de la nouvelle variante Covid-19 au Royaume-Uni.
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                                    <p>Cette décision jette un doute sur les deux derniers tours de matches de poule prévus pour le week-end prochain.

The meeting initiated by the French Ministry of Sports will evoke the annual international tournament which will begin on February 6 with France, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Italy.

“This new variant of SARS-CoV-2 has increased transmissibility compared to those currently circulating in France, which then increases the risk of contamination”, indicates a press release seen by AFP.

“This is why any trip or vacation to Great Britain is strongly discouraged.

“The French government is leaning, in the short term, towards the adoption of measures which restrict or even prohibit French clubs from participating in matches against teams from the United Kingdom,” he added.

Last week, European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) and the organizers of national competitions agreed to change the protocol for continental tournaments, which the Top 14 teams deemed too light.

Six matches of the Champions and Challenge Cups earlier in the season have already been canceled due to cases of coronavirus among the teams.

After playing games against English teams in December, Bayonne and Pau have recorded cases of the new variant among their setups.

The Basque side had threatened to withdraw from the second-level Challenge Cup because of the contaminations.

Quadruple European Cup winner Toulouse’s president Didier Lacroix played down the current problems and said he hopes the tournament will be over later in the year.

“There is enough time to catch up with this competition,” he told AFP.

“I think it’s a competition that is far from being distorted at the moment, it will take place more with a knockout phase, with things a little more difficult,” he added.

Doubt in the Premier League

The decision could have an impact on football with seven England sides and one Scottish club competing in knockout matches in February.

None of these matches, however, are against the French opposition.

Additionally, there are growing concerns over whether the Premier League season can be completed on time due to the new variant. Newcastle boss Steve Bruce and Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa say there is a moral argument to suspend all games

Several recent studies – which have not yet been peer reviewed – have concluded that the UK variant of the disease is probably much more transmissible than other strains.

Much of Britain has been stranded since last week in an attempt to reduce spiraling rates of infection and death.

A total of 1,325 new deaths within 28 days of a positive test were recorded on Friday – the highest since the peak of the first wave in April of last year.

At 11:00 GMT on Saturday, the total death toll from the coronavirus in the UK stood at 79,833, the highest toll in Europe.

On Thursday, the French Ministry of Health reported that two clusters of the British variant affecting a total of 19 people had been detected in a care home in the Brittany region of western France and in Bagneux, a suburb south of Paris.

Authorities found no evidence of contact between any of those infected in Bagneux and anyone who had traveled from Britain, which the ministry said indicated the mutant virus was already circulating in France.

(AFP)

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