France approves Six Nations' COVID-19 protocols, eases quarantine rules

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(Reuters) - The Six Nations is set to go ahead in full after France eased its strict COVID-19 quarantine protocols for the annual tournament, the country's sports minister Roxana Maracineanu said on Tuesday.

France has placed restrictions on travel to and from the United Kingdom which led to French clubs withdrawing from the European Champions Cup.

However, Six Nations CEO Ben Morel had said they had been in constant dialogue with the French authorities to reassure the government that their "robust" protocols would not require players and staff to quarantine on arrival.

"It was a decision everyone in rugby was awaiting," Maracineanu told French television.

"The FFR (French Rugby Federation) submitted to us a rigorous, strict protocol, which was then submitted to the health authorities.

"The decision has been taken within government to ensure that the Six Nations championship is held on the scheduled date, starting Feb. 6, with a bio-secure bubble, as was the case with the Tour de France."

Maracineanu said squads travelling to France will not have to quarantine as they would be tested every three days and would not be leaving bio-secure bubbles.

France begin their Six Nations campaign on Saturday when they take on Italy in Rome. They play home games against Scotland (Feb. 28) and Wales (March 20).

As part of the protocol, the French squad was trimmed from 37 down to 31 with players not returning to their clubs between some games, as was usually the case, following an agreement between the federation (FFR) and the league (LNR).

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)