‘We don’t want freebie points – let’s make France v Scotland happen’ - Sam Skinner knows what it's like to lose to Covid

Sam Skinner knows what it’s like to lose a match to Covid and he’d hate to see Scotland’s Six Nations game with France go the same way.

Sam Skinner has been recalled by Scotland for the Six Nations match with Ireland. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS
Sam Skinner has been recalled by Scotland for the Six Nations match with Ireland. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS

Skinner’s Exeter Chiefs side were handed a 28-0 default loss to Toulouse in the Champions Cup in December after a number of personnel at the English club tested positive for Covid-19.

Fortunately for the Chiefs, the tournament was revamped, meaning the Toulouse ‘result’ has not been fatal to their European hopes and the holders will be in today’s draw for the knockout stage.

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Skinner, recalled for this weekend’s match with Ireland, is thrilled to be back and would love to be involved in all three of Scotland’s remaining Six Nations fixtures.

Sam Skinner celebrates the first of his two tries in Exeter Chiefs' win over Bath. Picture: Michael Steele/Getty Images

The match against France in Paris should have been played on February 28 but was postponed after a dozen French players tested positive for coronavirus.

France are keen for the game to be rescheduled for Friday, March 26, but no new date has been confirmed as yet.

With question marks over France’s adherence to Covid protocols, a number of ex-players and pundits have called for Scotland to be awarded a 28-0 win, but Skinner does not agree.

“I think the game should go ahead,” said the lock. “At Exeter we lost to Toulouse technically because of the same situation. Everyone’s in the same boat and if there’s a way of making the game go ahead, let’s make it happen.

“It’s a great fixture and we as players want to play it. We don’t want freebie points at all. I imagine spectators want to see it as well, so I’m all for making it happen, definitely.”

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The fly in the ointment for Skinner and the rest of the English-based players in the Scotland squad is that the proposed new date falls on a weekend outside the international window.

It is hoped that Gallagher Premiership sides will make their Scottish players available for the match but it is yet to be confirmed, which leaves Skinner, his Exeter team-mates Stuart Hogg and Jonny Gray and the rest of the Anglo-Scots relying on the cooperation of their clubs.

“Obviously it is a concern,” said Skinner. “You’d like to think it can be resolved and there’s a way around it. I don’t know the politics behind it. I imagine money is involved. You’d like to think there’s a solution there and you want the top players available to play for Scotland because that could be a hell of a game against France.”

Skinner has Ireland to worry about first and the 26-year-old has been rewarded with an international recall after some impressive performances for Exeter, particularly his two-try showing in the 38-16 win over Bath at the Rec on Saturday. He puts his form down to hard work.

“To be completely truthful I feel like I’ve been trying to graft as hard as I can. I just hope that the harder you work, the luckier you get. That’s the situation I’ve found myself in – I’ve got the opportunity to bag a couple of tries against Bath, which was great.”

In the absence of Richie Gray, who is out with a head knock, Skinner is likely to provide second row cover for Jonny Gray and Scott Cummings against Ireland at BT Murrayfield on Sunday.

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