France v Fiji Autumn Nations Cup game called off amid coronavirus cases

PARIS (Reuters) - The Autumn Nations Cup game between France and Fiji on Sunday has been called off following positive coronavirus cases within the Fiji team, the French federation (FFR) and the Six Nations said on Friday.

The FFR said in a statement that the outcome of the game, which it said cannot be rescheduled, would be decided by the Six Nations committee on Monday.

Fiji, whose pre-tournament warm-up test against Portugal was also cancelled because three of their players tested positive for the novel coronavirus, are due to play Italy on Nov. 21 while France face Scotland at Murrayfield the next day.

Fiji Rugby said on Friday that one of their players had tested positive but the Six Nations added that additional tests had “resulted in another four positive cases affecting close contacts as well.”

“This was a difficult and disappointing decision, but it was the only possible outcome following today’s test results,” Six Nations CEO Ben Morel said in a statement.

“Whilst we’ve all been eagerly awaiting this match, the welfare of our players and their support teams remain our number one priority.”

Morel added that it was too soon to know whether Fiji would be able to play Italy.

“The Autumn Nations Cup organisers are working closely with the Fiji Rugby Union to take all necessary measures to mitigate the impact of the outbreak and to ensure that preparations can resume on time for Fiji’s next match against Italy on November 21st,” he said.

“It is premature to have any views on the staging of this match prior to a further series of tests which are due to take place in the coming days.”

The Autumn Nations Cup was created to replace the November tests after the international schedule was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

All of the French players have tested negative for the coronavirus, the FFR said.

Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Toby Davis and Ken Ferris