France rugby match off after Fiji players test positive for Covid

Marcoussis (France) (AFP) –

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France's opening match in the new Autumn Nations Cup on Sunday has been called off after several players in the Fiji team they were due to meet tested positive for coronavirus, AFP learnt on Friday from sources close to the French team.

According to the competition organisers, the medical commission responsible for the match, which was due to be staged in Vannes, Brittany, made its decision on Friday morning.

The Fijian squad returned two positive cases for Covid-19 during the week and new tests were to be carried out on Thursday with results expected on Friday.

Bristol back Semi Radradra, who was left out of the 23-man Fiji matchday squad announced earlier on Friday, is one of the infected players, according to a source close to the Fijian team.

These latest cases follow the six positive tests involving members of the Pacific Islanders' Autumn Nations Cup set-up at the start of the month.

The postponement, or cancellation, will be formalised later on Friday.

The France management cancelled the scheduled midday press conference announcing their 23-man squad.

"Obviously, there is sadness but if there are several cases of Covid and contact cases, good decisions have to be made and health comes before everything else," said Olivier Cloarec, the president of Vannes rugby club.

"But we are obviously sad because we are not able to host the XV of France just yet."

According to local media, the French players have been given permission to return to their clubs and possibly play in the Top 14 over the weekend before returning to the national training centre at Marcoussis on Monday.

Following an agreement between the FFR and the French league, les Bleus squad members will only be able to feature in a maximum of three matches this autumn.

After two victories in two matches, in preparation, a friendly against Wales then the closing Six Nations game against Ireland, the resurgent French were due to play their third match of the autumn period behind closed doors.

Fabien Galthie's team will also face Scotland and Italy later this month in the Autumn Nations Cup as well as a classification match in early December -- providing the coronavirus does not intercede further.

Fiji are due to play Italy on November 21 and Scotland a week later.

The Top 14 match between Lyon and Clermont, which was also due to be played on Sunday, has also been called off for similar reasons after at least three cases of Covid-19 were detected in the Lyon ranks.