French government advises clubs postpone European matches with British teams

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Champions Cup. (Twitter)
Champions Cup. (Twitter)

The French government has recommended rugby clubs postpone upcoming European Cup matches with British teams due to the new Covid-19 variant, according to a statement sent to AFP on Saturday.

The decision casts a doubt over the final two rounds of pool matches scheduled to start next weekend.

A meeting to discuss this year's Six Nations, set to begin on February 6, will take place next week.

"This new variant of SARS-CoV-2 has increased transmissibility compared to those currently circulating in France, which then increases the risk of contamination," the statement said.

"It's why all travel or holiday to Britain is strongly ill-advised," it added.

Last week European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) and domestic competition organisers agreed to evolve protocol in the continental tournaments, which Top 14 outfits believed were too light.

Six fixtures in the Champions and Challenge Cups from earlier in the season have already been cancelled due to coronavirus cases among squads.

After playing games against English sides in December Bayonne and Pau recorded cases of the new variant among their set-ups.

Several recent studies - yet to be peer-reviewed - have concluded that the British variant of the illness is likely to be far more transmissible than other strains.

Much of Britain has been under lockdown since last week in attempt to cut spiralling infection rates and deaths.

A total of 1 325 new deaths within 28 days of a positive test were recorded on Friday - the highest since the first-wave peak in April last year.

On Thursday, the French health ministry reported two clusters of the UK variant affecting a total of 19 people had been detected in a care home in the western French region of Brittany, and in Bagneux, a southern suburb of Paris.

Authorities found no evidence of any contact between one of the infected people in Bagneux and anybody who had travelled from Britain, which the ministry said indicated that the mutant virus is already circulating in France.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
loading... Live
Dolphins 107/7
Lions 86/5
loading... Live
Chippa United 0
Cape Town City 0
loading... Live
Sharks 7
Griquas 10
Voting Booth
What is your favourite sport to watch on TV?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
41% - 12297 votes
12% - 3674 votes
19% - 5582 votes
3% - 778 votes
1% - 296 votes
2% - 699 votes
5% - 1535 votes
8% - 2515 votes
3% - 1046 votes
Water sports
1% - 272 votes
American sports
1% - 382 votes
3% - 1003 votes