France coach Fabien Galthie cleared of wrongdoing in Covid-19 investigation

France coach Fabien Galthie has been cleared of any wrongdoing by an internal investigation into the Covid-19 outbreak in the French camp that caused the postponement of their Six Nations match with Scotland.

France head coach Fabien Galthie left the team bubble to watch his son play rugby. Picture: AFP via Getty Images
France head coach Fabien Galthie left the team bubble to watch his son play rugby. Picture: AFP via Getty Images

The testimony of Roger Salamon, the head of the medical commission of the French Rugby Federation (FFR), who signed the report commissioned by the minister for sports, exonerated Galthie, despite the coach leaving the squad bubble to watch his son play rugby.

Salamon also dismissed the theory that Galthie was ‘patient zero’ in the French camp. The suggestion is that the original source of the infection was someone in France’s sevens set-up.

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“In my report, I put it at the beginning, it is perfectly clear that what he did, whatever one might think, he had the right to do it and there was no particular risk,” Salamon told RTL Radio.

“And besides, he is not patient zero, that is virologically evident from the distance at which he went to see his son and from the distance at which there were the first cases. I do not say that to defend him, he does not need to be defended, but I say that because it is the truth.”

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Galthie and four other members of staff tested positive for coronavirus along with 12 France players. As a result, the Six Nations Testing Oversight Group recommended the postponement of the France v Scotland match, a decision ratified by the Six Nations Council.

The French management and players have come under heavy criticism after it emerged Galthie had left the squad bubble and several players had ventured out to eat waffles while in Rome for their match with Italy.

It’s particularly embarrassing for the French government which gave its go-ahead to the tournament three weeks ago only after approving the FFR’s stricter sanitary controls. France sports minister Roxane Maracineanu ordered the internal investigation amid a threat to withdraw the team from the tournament.

Galthie insists he was wearing a protective mask while watching his son play and that he had not broken any rules in the team’s Covid-19 protocols.

The France v Scotland game should have been played last Sunday. It now looks as if it could be rearranged for Friday March 26, extending the Six Nations Championship by an extra six days.

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