France v Scotland: New date agreed by French federation and league - now it’s up to SRU

The French Rugby Federation (FFR) and the National Rugby League (LNR) have reached an agreement on a new date for the postponed Guinness Six Nations match against Scotland.

France's head coach Fabien Galthie, right, and star scrum-half Antoine Dupont have both tested positive for Covid-19. Picture: Brian Lawless/AFP via Getty Images
France's head coach Fabien Galthie, right, and star scrum-half Antoine Dupont have both tested positive for Covid-19. Picture: Brian Lawless/AFP via Getty Images

France’s two rugby bodies want the match to be played on Friday March 26. It’s now up to the Scottish Rugby Union to decide if that suits them.

The SRU will only agree to the new date if they are able to secure the release of their English-based players and the early indications are that the Gallagher Premiership clubs would be amenable.

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It is understood that the English teams have softened their customary hard-line stance on player release outside international windows in recognition of the complications caused by the pandemic.

Given that the match could be a title decider and may even see unbeaten France crowned Grand Slam champions, it became imperative when finding a new date that both teams would have full player access.

The game should have been played on Sunday past but was called off due to an outbreak of Covid-19 in the French camp which affected 11 players and head coach Fabien Galthie.

Reports in France say the clubs have agreed to release their players to the French national team for the match with Scotland in return for compensation.

The weekend of March 26-27-28 is a designated for club rugby, with matches scheduled in the French Top 14, English Premiership and Guinness Pro14.

According to French news outlet RMC Sport, the agreement between the FFR and LNR puts the ball in Scotland’s court, although any new date would need the approval of the Six Nations Council.

Thirteen members of the Scotland squad play in England, including captain Stuart Hogg, Jonny Gray, Chris Harris and James Lang.

Speaking last week after the match was postponed, head coach Gregor Townsend stressed how important it was that Scotland had a full squad to choose from for the rearranged fixture.

“Throughout this tournament, and the previous Autumn Nations Cup, we have worked hard to maintain strict Covid protocols which have enabled us to select our strongest possible teams for these important international fixtures,” Townsend said.

“We will wait to see what options are available to play this match against France, but it remains our position that we want to have all our eligible players available to us for that fixture, so we can compete to the level we would have done this weekend.”

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If the game does go ahead on March 26, it will means Scotland and France playing three matches in a row.

Scotland are due to play home games against Ireland, on Sunday March 14, and Italy, on Saturday March 20.

France are scheduled to travel to Twickenham to meet England on Saturday March 13 and then host Wales on March 20.

Galthie and the French squad have been heavily criticised for their behaviour in relation to observing Covid protocols during the Six Nations.

The head coach left the squad’s bubble on the opening weekend of the tournament to watch his son play rugby. There were also reports that players went out to eat waffles while in Rome to face Italy in round one.

French sports minister Roxana Maracineanu has threatened to withdraw France from the Six Nations.

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