Here are your Six Nations headlines for Tuesday, March 2.
France facing being pulled from Six Nations
France could be withdrawn from the Six Nations by their own government if they fail to adequately investigate the source of the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak that caused their game against Scotland to be postponed.
Last Sunday’s clash at the Stade de France was called off after 11 players and several staff members within the French camp tested positive during the week, including head coach Fabien Galthie.
It has since emerged that Galthie broke the Covid bubble, although the French Federation has seemingly insisted that no one person is at fault for the outbreak.
However, French Government sports minister Roxana Mărăcineanu wants some answers.
According to the Telegraph, she has suggested to L’Equipe TV that unless a reasonable explanation is made to the Government, the French team could be withdrawn from the tournament.
That, of course, would leave Wales as title winners provided they follow up the Triple Crown with victory over Italy in Rome.
The French sports minister said: “We asked an investigation from the FFR and from [president] Bernard Laporte, who himself came to see us before the tournament to present us the protocols and tell us that everything was going to go well, that the bubble was going to be strictly respected with controlled entries and exits.
“Now that we can see that this is not the case, I am waiting for him to come and explain to us what has happened.
“If nothing happens, if we don’t look into this chain of contaminations and they don’t explain to us how it could happen, then the authorisation that has been given [to play in the Six Nations] can be withdrawn.”
Six Nations urged to award Scotland walkover
Meanwhile, former Scotland winger Kenny Logan says France deserve to forfeit Sunday’s postponed clash and has called on the Six Nations to award Gregor Townsend’s side a walkover victory.
A rescheduled date for the clash is reportedly pencilled in for March 26, although the move would likely see Scotland without their Premiership or France-based players due to World Rugby’s selection regulations.
Logan now says the best course of action would be to hand Scotland the victory, adding that France should also be in line for a hefty fine.
He told the Telegraph : “I would like to see Scotland play France, of course I would, but it’s difficult to see how that can happen without Scotland losing key players and being at a huge disadvantage
“If that’s not possible then France should forfeit the match by 28-0 as happened in the Autumn internationals.
“People will say that the autumn internationals were different in that there was a set time frame and they were building towards a final, but it’s the same with the Six Nations, which has been designed to build towards a Super Saturday.
“What has happened has damaged the integrity of the tournament and the whole thing is a complete shambles. It’s also unfair on Scotland, who are being treated like an afterthought.”
Former Ireland coach says Italy ‘going nowhere’
Former Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan says Italy’s Six Nations participation is “not going anywhere”, adding that a five-nation tournament may well be better for the competition’s integrity.
The Italians haven’t won a Six Nations fixture for six years and slumped to another heavy defeat at the hands of the Irish in Rome at the weekend.
Since joining the competition in 2000, Italy have won just 12 of the last 108 games they have played, a record that has sparked several questions over their continued participation in the tournament.
Alternative suggestions have included promotion and relegation, which would give the likes of Romania or Georgia a chance to shine, or indeed the inclusion of South Africa or Argentina.
“They are the whipping boys of the tournament and the fact remains that every team sees Italy as an opportunity to rack up points,” O’Sullivan told RTÉ’s Against The Head.
“Italy are your banker if you need points on the last day. That’s not good for the tournament. When the tournament started everyone was saying we should give them time, but it’s 21 years and it’s probably getting worse now, not better.
“I see Franco Smith (Italy coach) coming out and saying his team will beat anyone in the world in five years. I don’t know where that came from, there is no evidence, it’s just the same year in, year out. It’s not a good look for a tournament to have an annual whipping boy; it’s not a good idea in terms of developing the tournament.
“Forget all the poppycock about history; it’s about money”