Bad luck? In terms of framing-overflow, the Covid is more elusive than the best of wingers, and no doubt the leaders of tricolor rugby would like to rely on this observation to minimize the consequences of the bad soap opera that is in the process of write the XV of France.
The revelation of a new case of contamination among the Blues this Thursday, February 25 in the middle of the morning came to severely tackle the remobilization of the troops already decimated before the match against Scotland, scheduled this Sunday February 28 at the Stade de France and finally postponed .
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A new case which brings to 16 in total the number of positives in the France group: 12 players and four members of the management. The players immediately returned to isolation, “In accordance with sanitary protocol”, indicated a press release from the FFR. Exit therefore the high intensity training which was to determine the final composition of the team to be aligned, and the press conference scheduled for early afternoon.
Very reduced communication
All week, the communication of the XV of France was reduced to lapidary statements on the tests carried out. Since the cascade of contaminations revealed from Tuesday, February 16, the day after the clash with Ireland, the expression of the Blues so skilfully orchestrated for months is no longer appropriate. It is not even a question of giving news of the health of the patients, not all of them being perfectly asymptomatic.
Thus the atmosphere is ballasted with another virus, that of suspicion. Is there one or more disruptive agents at the origin of the entry of the disease in the sanitary bubble set up by the French Rugby Federation around the XV of France?
An internal investigation must be launched, but while awaiting its conclusions, the doubts of the ones and the others are expressed in covered words. They often point to coach Fabien Galthié, qualified as “Suspicious case” from Monday February 15 at the same time as the first confirmed case concerning a physical trainer.
The coach at the heart of the turmoil
“All my actions comply with health protocol. I do not understand these unjustified accusations ”, commented the playing master of the Blues on a daily basis The team. It prevents. Fabien Galthié built his project on trust, the empowerment of all and shared exemplarity. In a hitherto cloudless sky, the episode is likely to leave traces, in any case to challenge the beautiful unanimity installed.
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For the French Rugby Federation, there is also the question of its anti-covid system. The XV of France is infected, but also the rugby sevens team, and previously the under 20s, of which more than fifteen members had tested positive in mid-January. In terms of sealing, the sanitary bubbles of the FFR therefore leave much to be desired. The Federal President prefers to talk about “Strict protocol” rather than a “bubble”. It is, anyway, to be reviewed.
Especially since club presidents will not endure long to see their workforce in jeopardy because of the Blues. The fact that the players they have just released to replace the infected holders now find themselves in contact can also make them tick.
Not to mention the postponement of the match which will require new adaptations. “There was probably some bullshit made, and we have the impression that we are paying a little for the broken pipes”, regretted on Wednesday Christophe Urios, manager of Union Bègles-Bordeaux.
The postponement of France-Scotland also leaves a doubt about the future of the Tournament, each day of which is suspended from the results of the teams’ tests. Except that for the moment, the other nations provide spotless balance sheets. The Blues are no longer in the race to achieve this grand slam.
An investigation to understand
How did the Covid break through the France group’s bubble? To try to understand, the Minister Delegate in charge of sports, Roxana Maracineanu, asked by letter Wednesday February 24 to the president of the French Rugby Federation, Bernard Laporte, to carry out an internal investigation, to be submitted within eight days.
She also approached the health ministry to seek “How the chain of contaminations was formed” within the XV of France. At the microphone of France Info radio Thursday 25, Bernard Laporte assured of his will “To really know if someone was at fault or not” by taking some liberties with the protocol in place.
But the boss of the FFR remains skeptical: “When we see that the President of the Republic has been contaminated, while his protocol must be very strict, it shows how hard the protocol is to master. I believe more in this than anything else. “