Six Nations

Decision on Six Nations game expected

The French Rugby Federation announced on Monday that five more players - including captain Charles Ollivon - had tested positive for Covid-19.

Ten France players are isolating and will be unavailable for Sunday's (Monday morning NZ time) game.

Les Bleus are top of the Six Nations table after beating Italy and Ireland.

Scottish Rugby released a statement saying they could be without 10 players should the game be rearranged for another date.

France v Scotland could be cancelled after five more positive Covid-19 tests

The Six Nations testing oversight group reviewed the outbreak on Monday (Tuesday NZT) which has revealed positive tests by 10 players and three staff members. The group said it will reconvene on Wednesday (Thursday NZT) to decide whether the match will go ahead on Sunday in Paris. If not, it will likely be postponed for a week.

Scotland warned later on Monday (Tuesday NZT) that a delay could affect the availability of its own players.

France beat Ireland, edge closer to Six Nations title

Les Bleus, back in the mix since Galthie took over last year, scored a try through Charles Ollivon on their first incursion and defended stoutly in a tense finale to snatch their second win in two games in this year's championship.

France, who host the 2023 World Cup, top the standings with nine points, ahead of Wales on goal difference with England in third place three points adrift.

"We were prepared to win the game, we won the game. It was our objective. That's it," Galthie, who has led France to nine victories in 11 games, told a news conference.

Injury setbacks for Ireland

Sexton and Ryan, two of Farrell's most important players, were replaced due to suspected concussions during last week's opening 21-16 loss to Wales.

Ireland played most of the game with 14 men following Peter O'Mahony's 14th minute red card.

Billy Burns will win just his fifth cap in place of Sexton, while Ulster's Iain Henderson will fill the big hole left by Ryan and will captain the side for the first time.

Former Blues and Hurricanes halfback Jamison Gibson-Park will start at nine in place of Murray, who injured his hamstring in training.

     

Wales set to call up trio including uncapped centre Willis Halaholo

Flanker Dan Lydiate has been released from the squad after suffering a serious knee injury in the 21-16 win over Ireland.

Centre Johnny Williams, wing Hallam Amos and scrum-half Tomos Williams will miss the match against Scotland.

Uncapped Halaholo was called up against Barbarians in November 2019.

The 30-year-old centre missed the non-capped international after suffering a serious knee injury playing for his region that ruled him out for almost a year.

New Zealand-born Halaholo qualified through residency after joining the Cardiff Blues in 2016.

Former Chiefs winger James Lowe returns for Ireland for Six Nations debut against Wales

Lowe made a try-scoring debut against Wales in November after the New Zealander qualified for Ireland on a three-year residency. The former Chiefs winger struggled more in the loss to England the following week then injured his groin in training and hasn’t played since.

He was selected on Friday (Saturday NZ time) ahead of Jordan Larmour, who was in the reserves after missing the autumn tests with a dislocated shoulder.

“James is a great player who is right for this game,” Ireland coach Andy Farrell said. “He has been in great form in training.”

Women's Six Nations: Tournament to start in 'spring or summer'

Full details are expected by the end of January, with the men's Six Nations set to start as planned in February.

Ireland, Scotland and Italy's Women's Six Nations fixtures may double as 2021 World Cup qualification matches given none of the three have yet secured a place at the tournament.

The Under-20 Six Nations has also been delayed until later in 2021.

Like the women's tournament, it would normally run at the same time as the men's Six Nations.

France name 3 uncapped players in 37-strong Six Nations squad

Fresh from an encouraging autumn programme that culminated in a second-place 2020 Six Nations finish and taking England to extra-time at Twickenham in the final of the Autumn Nations Cup, Galthie’s latest squad shows he is willing to experiment some more in his second calendar year in charge. 

Three uncapped players have made the first France squad of 2021, winger Donovan Taofifenua and prop Georges-Henri Colombe of Racing and Stade Francais centre Julien Delbouis. 

Setback for Six Nations champs

It leaves players including captain Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje and the Vunipola brothers without a game before England face Scotland on 6 February.

Saracens were relegated from the Premiership earlier this year after breaching salary cap rules.

English rugby's second tier has not had a game since March due to Covid-19.

To counter the lack of preparation, Saracens have confirmed they are negotiating with fellow clubs to establish a separate cup competition format as part of the pre-season build up, sanctioned by the Rugby Football Union.

Fiji rugby team ready for 'once in a lifetime opportunity'

The Flying Fijians will take on France, Italy and Scotland in Group A, with England, Ireland, Wales and Georgia to contest Group B.

The final round will be a series of crossover matches against the team with the equivalent placing in the opposite pool.

Fiji have not played four consecutive tests against tier one countries in the professional era and CEO, John O'Connor, said their participation would be a historic milestone.

"It will be a challenge for the boys but you know we have been crying over [wanting] more test matches against tier one for so long," he said.