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Calls grow for investigation into France’s Covid outbreak chaos

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Garry Ringrose takes on Gaël Fickou during the Six Nations match between Ireland and France at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin, on February 14. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Garry Ringrose takes on Gaël Fickou during the Six Nations match between Ireland and France at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin, on February 14. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Garry Ringrose takes on Gaël Fickou during the Six Nations match between Ireland and France at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin, on February 14. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Florian Grill, a director of the French Federation of Rugby (FFR), yesterday called for an independent investigation into the Covid-19 outbreak within the squad that forced the postponement of their Six Nations game against Scotland.

French sports minister Roxana Maracineanu asked FFR president Bernard Laporte to launch an internal investigation. However, for Grill – who was beaten by Laporte in the federation elections last year – it is not enough.

“The governance of French rugby had signed a protocol with the government, which is no small responsibility. We need to get to the truth of this, we need precision and transparency,” Grill told French radio station Europe 1.

The French squad was limited to 31 players amid a “bubble” system to prevent Covid-19 infections, but they were allowed to train with the rugby sevens team at the national centre in Marcoussis, near Paris.

Eleven players, and some staff members including head coach Fabien Galthie, tested positive after France beat Ireland on February 14.

The Six Nations announced on Thursday that the game against Scotland, scheduled for yesterday, was postponed.

Before the investigation started, Laporte said that “to my knowledge, nobody is at fault”. Maracineanu then threatened to withdraw France’s authorisation to play in the Six Nations if the FFR did not investigate the outbreak’s origin.

“The emergency is to conduct an independent investigation, not an internal investigation,” said Grill.

“Everyone will understand that we cannot ask the people we suspect to do the investigation themselves.”

Last month, France banned travel from and to non-EU countries, but the sports ministry gave the rugby team a special authorisation to take part in the Six Nations.

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“I don’t think it was written in the protocol that the players could go out to eat waffles,” said Maracineanu on Saturday, following reports that French players went out in Rome when they played Italy three weeks ago.


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