Shot in the arm for England and Exeter with Slade available for Montpellier trip

·2-min read
<span>Photograph: INPHO/Shutterstock</span>
Photograph: INPHO/Shutterstock

Henry Slade will seemingly be able to take part in England’s entire Six Nations campaign after he was declared available for Exeter’s trip to Montpellier this weekend.

England face away matches against Italy and France, where both governments have introduced restrictions which effectively rule out players who have not been fully vaccinated. Slade has previously expressed hesitancy over the vaccine but the Exeter director of rugby, Rob Baxter, hinted on Thursday that the 28-year-old centre is now fully jabbed after revealing he can play against Montpellier on Sunday.

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Slade’s availability this weekend bodes well for England and their coach, Eddie Jones. Slade was among England’s best performers in the autumn and England’s trip to France on the final weekend of the championship could prove decisive. On this weekend’s match, Baxter said: “He’s available, yes. I don’t think we’ve got any player who is actually available who can’t go. I know Henry doesn’t mind me saying this, Henry never said he wasn’t going to get vaccinated. He said at the time he wanted to see what the situation was, and that was months and months ago.

“He never said he wasn’t going to have it, he said he wanted to see what the situation was. [The French government requirements] have had virtually no effect on us. It is not for me to discuss players’ medical status, you will see the team and we have not got any players with medical exemptions so there is no Novak Djokovic situation.”

Meanwhile, the Rugby Football Union is weighing up whether to drop the requirement for supporters to have Covid passes for England’s two home matches against Wales on 26 February and Ireland on 12 March.

The RFU stipulated that supporters must have a valid Covid pass for the three autumn matches in November even though the government had not yet introduced its plan B measures. Those measures are due to be lifted before the end of January but the RFU is conducting talks with the DCMS, the local authority and medical experts before making a decision.

Supporters traveling to Murrayfield for England’s opening match against Scotland on 5 February must have either proof of vaccination or a negative lateral flow test. England fans can also attend the match in Rome on 13 February but will have to be fully vaccinated or be able to demonstrate they have recently recovered from Covid.

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