Irelandâs Six Nations decider against France this Saturday is set to go ahead as planned despite President Emmanuel Macron tightening the countryâs coronavirus restrictions, sports minister Roxana Maracineanu has said.
Both France and Ireland can win the Six Nations title this weekend along with England as the rugby championship concludes more than seven months later than planned. The tournament resumed last weekend in Dublin as Ireland thrashed Italy 50-17 behind closed doors, with three games scheduled back-to-back for this weekend in what has been billed âSuper Saturdayâ.
But hopes of finally concluding the Six Nations were jeopardised by Wednesday nightâs announcement that France will enter a second nationwide lockdown in an effort to stem the spiralling coronavirus numbers, with both cases and deaths rising in recent weeks.
Maracineau confirmed overnight that elite sport will continue to be exempt from the national lockdown though, meaning the fixture should be able to go ahead without issue at the Stade de France.
âThe coming weeks will be tough economically but also humanely. This is why I wanted to confirm to you that the continuity of the sport which is practiced as a profession is today assured,â Maracineau said at a parliament session.
However, while the menâs fixture is set to go ahead, it has been reported that the womenâs encounter between the same sides has been abandoned after an outbreak of Covid-19 among the French squad.
The Telegraph reports that several members of the France Women backroom staff have returned positive coronavirus test results, with the Irish side informed of the cancellation on Wednesday, four days before the match at Dublinâs Energia Park. France had already agreed to relinquish their home advantage in order for the match to be played as the entire Irish team would have had to quarantine for 14 days upon their return from Lille, which would prove impossible given Irelandâs squad is made up of amateur players.
The Six Nations have so far declined to comment on the reports.
The announcement in France at least means that Franceâs Ligue 1 season can also continue, while the Paris Masters tennis tournament is due to get under way on Monday.
Under the new measures, France will enter a new national lockdown on Friday that will last until 1 December, with restrictions placed on the public to not leave their home other than to buy essential goods, seek medical attention or for a one-hour period of exercise.