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'Of course the Six Nations will take place. I understand that some are skeptical, but it will take place'

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World Rugby Vice-President Bernard Laporte expects the Six Nations to go ahead as planned. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

World Rugby Vice-President Bernard Laporte expects the Six Nations to go ahead as planned. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

World Rugby Vice-President Bernard Laporte expects the Six Nations to go ahead as planned. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

French Federation (FFR) president and World Rugby vice chairman Bernard Laporte has reiterated his belief that the Six Nations will go ahead as planned, adding that he expects participating players will be tested more frequently.

The influential former France coach and government minister’s comments come in the wake of current Deputy Minister for Sport Roxana Mărăcineanu’s warning that Les Bleus’ visit to Dublin in a month’s time is under threat because of the spread of the coronavirus in Ireland.

The French government’s concern over the UK variant strain of Covid-19 led to the Heineken Champions Cup being temporarily suspended, with rounds three and four set to be abandoned.

The FFR today presented the government with updated Covid-19 protocols for the tournament in a bid to assure them that it can be carried off safely.

And Laporte is confident the Championship will go ahead as scheduled.

"Of course the tournament will take place. I understand that some are skeptical, but it will take place," he said.

"First of all, because we had a protocol in place in the autumn that worked very, very well. The proof is that as soon as in a team, in this case Fiji, were detected Covid cases, they were out of competition. It worked well.

"There's going to be a Six Nations protocol. All of this, again, is that we are very optimistic. It worked in the autumn. I don't see why it wouldn't work.

"There will be changes, we will go further, there will be even more tests: prevent, detect and contain. It's the triptych of protocol."

One change from the conclusion of the Six Nations in October and the Autumn Nations Cup in November and December will be an increase in testing.

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"There will be even more testing, actually," Laporte said.

"We adapt to the conditions, but it is the same principle: a real health bubble. The danger is when a player leaves and comes back: you have to be very careful because he enters this bubble where everyone is protected and he must not contaminate others.

"That's it: a lot of organisation, a lot of foresight, with a "Covid-manager" in each nation. For us it is Serge Simon, who is a doctor in this case. Again, it worked well in the fall. It's going to work well in this Six Nations time.”

Laporte added that the running of the tournament is essential to the unions involved.

"It is vital," he said.

"Economically speaking, it's a lot of money, rights, TV and the like for each nation. So yes, it's vital, even if we know very well that we will play in front of no one. The shortfall in the box office will still exist."


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