Antoine Dupont checks optimistic for coronavirus as France face additional disruption

France’s preparations for his or her Six Nations match towards Scotland have been additional rocked after star scrum-half Antoine Dupont returned a optimistic Covid-19 check on Friday morning.

Dupont, who’s asymptomatic, is the fourth member of France’s squad and backroom workers to have examined optimistic this week, and the 24-year-old will now isolate for the “coming days” in accordance with a obscure assertion issued by the French federation.

Covid pointers in France presently state that any particular person testing optimistic for Covid should self-isolate for seven days, which means that Dupont shall be unable to rejoin his team-mates till subsequent Friday on the earliest, simply two days earlier than Les Bleus host Scotland in Paris. France plan to extend their necessary self-isolation interval from seven to 10 days, however that won’t be launched till Monday, sparing Dupont’s particular absence on the Stade de France subsequent Sunday.

After two wins within the opening two rounds for France, Dupont’s prognosis provides additional stress to their Grand Slam cost. Head coach Fabien Galthie, his assistant, former hooker William Servat, and one different member of France’s backroom workers examined optimistic earlier this week, whereas the France sevens squad, who skilled with Galthie’s facet final week, have additionally been pressured to isolate as a consequence of a Covid outbreak.

These backroom positives led to your entire squad being examined final Wednesday morning, with all gamers returning unfavourable checks and returning residence to their households to self-isolate. Exams had been repeated on Friday morning, forward of the squad’s deliberate return to their coaching base on Sunday, and the FFR confirmed that, out of the outcomes returned to date, there had been 11 negatives, together with captain Charles Ollivon, and one optimistic, Dupont.

The Toulouse scrum-half, who has 29 caps for France, was linked arm-in-arm to Galthie within the post-match huddle after final Sunday’s win towards Eire. The duo additionally sat alongside one another on Monday evening once they just about attended an annual awards ceremony for France’s rugby newspaper, Midi Olympique. Nevertheless it was not till Tuesday afternoon that Galthie’s prognosis was confirmed.

The absence of Dupont, hailed because the “finest rugby participant on the earth proper now” by New Zealand scrum-half Aaron Smith, can be an amazing blow to France’s aim of successful their first championship for 11 years. Dupont has develop into the poster boy of Galthie’s new-look facet and was topped participant of the match in final 12 months’s Six Nations. On this 12 months’s version, no participant has assisted extra tries or made extra offloads than Dupont, and he has made extra metres and damaged extra tackles than some other scrum-half within the match, too.

As ever with France, nevertheless, the scrum-half riches are huge. If Galthie had been to determine that Dupont’s lack of coaching time within the coming days meant that he wouldn’t be able to face Gregor Townsend’s facet subsequent Sunday, then Toulon scrum-half Baptiste Serin would nearly positively fill the No 9 jersey. As the one different scrum-half within the squad, Clermont’s Sebastien Bezy would take Serin’s spot on the bench, as he did within the Autumn Nations Cup remaining when a callow France nearly surprised England’s large weapons at Twickenham.

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