Virus rules England women's Hunt out of Italy match

London (AFP) –


England scrum-half Natasha Hunt has been ruled out of Sunday's Women's Six Nations international against Italy after testing positive for coronavirus.

Reigning champions England were assured of defending their title after France could only manage a draw with Scotland last week.

But their match in Parma will see England bidding for a Grand Slam.

With Hunt unavailable, her place has been taken by Claudia MacDonald.

"While we're understandably disappointed for Natasha Hunt, the health and safety of all players and staff members is paramount," said England women's coach Simon Middleton in a Rugby Football Union statement issued Friday.

England's match against Italy is the only one of three scheduled Women's Six Nations fixtures still going ahead on Sunday after Covid-19 put paid to both Ireland's game against France and Wales' match with Scotland.

The Scots also have an outstanding game in Italy.