Sixteen positive cases in just over a week: this is what caused the postponement of the France-Scotland match, initially scheduled for this Sunday in the Six Nations Tournament. However, a question remains: who was the first infected person in the group? The French Rugby Federation (FFR) pleads the thesis of the entry of the virus via a player of the French team at seven, who had participated in training of the XV of France before the duel France – Ireland on February 14.

Who is “patient zero”?

But the vice-president of the FFR, Serge Simon, made another speech on Monday in an interview with Midi Olympique: “Our only certainty is that no player in the XV has been infected by a player from France 7, since the positive cases this week are transmissions within the XV group of France.” And to ensure: “Patient zero, we know him: he is our physical trainer.”

Fabien Galthié suspected

The physical trainer was the first officially announced case on February 16. But Fabien Galthié, coach of the XV of France, tested positive the same day. Bernard Laporte, president of the FFR, confirmed that Galthié, suspected of having violated the health protocol, had left the bubble to attend, masked, a match of his son in Paris. “I don’t see where there would be a problem with this”, estimated the boss of the FFR, supporting the coach.

“We want to understand who brought this virus in and how it spread to others”, insisted Roxana Maracineanu. An internal investigation, requested by the minister, should make it possible to determine this. A report from the FFR is due on Tuesday, said Bernard Laporte.

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Bubble or Gruyère?

Roxanna Maracineanu was clear: “A bubble, you have to be careful not to get out of it (…) In the protocol that was presented to us, there are very strict conditions for exits and returns. You must be tested when you return to the bubble”.

Bernard Laporte admitted on RMC Sport on Friday that he and players “walked in the street” in Rome “with masks”, before the game against Italy on February 6. “But that doesn’t mean breaking the bubble!”, he insisted. The newspaper The team claims to have seen players eating waffles on a street in the Italian capital but “they were retested on their way home”, assured Bernard Laporte.

Sanctions in the event of breaches?

The clusters in other French selections reinforce the suspicions of breaches. Last fall, the XV of France women could not play their last match of the Tournament against Ireland because of positive cases. In January, the U20, the under-20 team had been affected during a training course in Portugal.

On the side of the ministry, we demand sanctions: “It is the FFR which has disciplinary power. I expect it to exercise it”, explained Roxana Maracineanu Sunday. “We have to show, when things go wrong, that people take responsibility, that they do their mea culpa, and then behind that we start again on a good basis, because the competition is not yet over”, she added.

What date for France-Scotland?

For the manager of the Blues, Raphaël Ibanez, the postponement of this match “at the end of March, that would be ideal”, that is to say one week after the official end of the Tournament, on March 26, 27 or 28. Problem: the Top 14, the French championship, is in progress, which induces new negotiations with the clubs, who would not be delighted by this prospect. Discussions between the parties before the matches of the fall tour had been tense and Fabien Galthié had to upset his workforce at mid-term, the international players then being unable to exceed three match sheets maximum, out of the six scheduled matches.

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Other avenues are under study, such as playing France-Scotland on Tuesday, March 9. It will be up to the Six Nations Committee to decide. For the moment, the XV awaits the results of the investigation carried out in collaboration with the medical commission of the federation. With in mind the threat, explicit, of the Minister of Sports: that of a withdrawal of the authorization to play, if the Federation does not take its responsibilities.