France’s Autumn Nations Cup opener in doubt after Covid outbreak for Fiji | Fiji rugby union team


Fiji’s Autumn Nations Cup opener against France on Sunday has been cast into doubt amid a Covid-19 outbreak in the Pacific islanders’ squad, with tournament organisers anxiously awaiting the results of further tests.

Fiji have confirmed two positive cases from tests taken this week, with those players subsequently going into isolation. All other team members have tested negative, but the results of Thursday’s additional tests will be reviewed before a decision on whether the match goes ahead.

It is understood that, unlike in France’s Top 14, there is no threshold for a particular number of positive tests leading to an automatic cancellation, rather the Autumn Nations Cup will adopt a “case-by-case” approach. In France’s domestic league, three or more identified cases in a squad within seven days of a match leads to automatic cancellation.

Organisers said on Thursday that they “do not envisage a cancellation at this time” but a significant increase in positive cases would force their hand. With no room in the schedule for the match to be rearranged it would have to be scratched if it cannot go ahead on Sunday. In that case it is highly likely France would be awarded an automatic 28-0 bonus-point victory, though it is understood there is also provision within tournament rules to award a 0-0 draw.

If the match – scheduled to be played in Vannes, Brittany – is cancelled it would be a colossal blow on the first weekend of the one-off tournament, scrambled together in the absence of the traditional autumn internationals. It would also be a disaster for Amazon Prime, which is making its first foray into international rugby union given France v Fiji has the potential to be among the most exciting matches of the competition.

Fiji have already had a warm-up match against Portugal cancelled last week due to six positive cases in their squad at their French base in Limoges. Last weekend however, Fiji declared that following further tests, the entire team had tested negative. It is unclear whether the two new cases reported this week were recorded by players who had previously tested positive.


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