To limit the round trips of players, the FFR and the League have agreed to return to a closed group of 31 units, and no longer 42, until the end of the Six Nations Tournament. Final decision this Thursday.
The subject had been the subject of long discussions between the French Rugby Federation and the National League. The staff of the XV of France wanted to be able to benefit from 42 players, as during the 2020 Tournament, in order to organize their now famous high intensity training. The pro clubs, scalded by the demands of the FFR, wanted to return to 31 players. A compromise had finally been found: 37 selectable players and five training partners from clubs that were not in great demand (and who could not be selected for the test matches). With the obligation, every mid-week, to release 9 Blues and the five training partners.
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An agreement now obsolete according to information from Olympic noon. After discussions between the staff of the XV of France and some managers of the Top 14, it would have been decided to go back. The health situation becoming more and more worrying with the spread of the English variant, the two parties would have agreed that it was necessary to strengthen a little more the health bubble of the Blues. To reduce the number of round trips, the group should therefore be reduced to 31 players for eight weeks, and no longer 37 plus 5. A final meeting is scheduled for Thursday afternoon to formalize this change.
Six final departures and a frozen group
At 37 players, the agreement provided that, every Thursday, 9 of them (plus the five training partners) be sent back to their clubs to return to Blue on Monday. Movements which considerably increased the risk of contamination. This Thursday, the XV of France confirmed the return to the club of eight players (Kolingar, Geraci, Cros, Tolofua, Couilloud, Delbouis, Taofifenua and Rattez) who can be aligned in Top 14 this weekend. Only two players should therefore be recalled and the group then fixed at 31 members (the training partners being definitively released). In the event of an injury, a new player could obviously be called up, but he will have to pass the tests proving that he is negative before entering the bubble. And never to come out.
A decision which also aims to reassure the French government a little more, which has still not formalized its decision on whether or not to hold the Six Nations Tournament. The organizers of the competition have made an official request for a septaine waiver for the British nations – Scotland and Wales – who are to come and play at the Stade de France. No answer for the moment. The Committee demanded that all selections travel via private flights in order to avoid contact with travelers in airport lobbies and airplanes.