France players to return home but will isolate amid COVID-19 fears

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PARIS (Reuters) - The French rugby federation (FFR) said on Wednesday players from the national team have been allowed to return home during the Six Nations break but will still need to isolate after another staff member tested positive for COVID-19.

All players tested negative for the second day in a row on Tuesday but forwards coach William Servat had returned a positive test, the FFR said.

Head coach Fabien Galthie has already tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

There could be concern for scrumhalf Antoine Dupont who spent time in close contact with Galthie at an awards ceremony organised by French rugby paper Midi Olympique on Monday.

The entire squad had been isolating at the National Rugby Centre on the outskirts of Paris. Players will leave on Wednesday and are due to return on Sunday.

"Complementary PCR tests will be carried out at home on Friday 19 February, as well as on the evening of Sunday 20 February, as soon as the players and coaching staff return to the National Rugby Centre. They will then isolate until the results are back," the FFR said in a statement.

There was further concerns later on Wednesday when the FFR said that the rugby sevens national team, who took part in training sessions with the Six Nations squad, were also placed in isolation following positive cases.

"There is ongoing analysis to determine whether there is a link between the sanitary situations of the two France teams," the FFR said in a statement.

France beat Ireland 15-13 in Dublin on Sunday and host Scotland on Feb. 28.

They are top of the Six Nations standings with two wins from two matches, bidding for a first title since 2010, the year of their last Grand Slam.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Peter Rutherford and Christian Radnedge)