France head coach Fabien Galthie retains the support of his federation after it emerged he left the squad’s bubble on the opening weekend of the Guinness Six Nations to watch his son play rugby.
Les Bleus’ round three game against Scotland on Sunday was postponed because of an outbreak of coronavirus, with Galthie providing the first positive test after a 15-13 victory over Ireland in Dublin on February 14.
Eleven players, including star scrum-half Antoine Dupont and captain Charles Ollivon, have been diagnosed with Covid-19, prompting French sports minister Roxana Maracineanu to demand answers.
Fabien Galthie has been backed by the French rugby federation after a new Covid-19 scandal
Galthie left his France squad’s Six Nations bubble to watch his son play rugby last month
Maracineanu has threatened to withdraw France from the Six Nations amid reports that players went out to eat waffles while in Rome to face Italy in round one.
But French Rugby Federation president Bernard Laporte has now revealed that the day after the Azzurri had been crushed 50-10, Galthie attended the Stade Jean-Bouin in Paris to see his son Mathis play.
‘For me, he has the right to leave from the moment he is masked. He was outside,’ Laporte told France 3 television channel.
‘He watched the match alongside (Stade Francais director general) Thomas Lombard, who himself is tested every three days and also wore a mask. I don’t see where the problem could be. But then again I’m not a doctor.
Galthie attended the Stade Jean-Bouin in Paris to watch his son one day after France beat Italy
‘Why wouldn’t I support him (Galthie)? I am not a prosecutor. And it’s not because I really like Fabien. He knows very well that I don’t give gifts to people.’
It is now thought the Six Nations will come under pressure to award Scotland the victory for their postponed game.
At the start of the tournament, officials insisted any match impacted by Covid-19 would be rearranged.
But Gregor Townsend’s Scotland side remain adamant they will not agree to a new date that forces them to play with a weakened team.
Galthie tested positive for coronavirus just after France’s win over Ireland on February 14
French Sports Minister Maracineanu is furious and investigating the outbreak — and the alleged outing in Rome has been pinpointed as one possible source.
‘I don’t think it was written in the protocols that the players could go out to eat waffles,’ said Maracineanu.
‘If they went out to eat waffles, they had to be re-tested when they re-entered the bubble. We want to know if this has been done.
‘(President) Bernard Laporte told us that everything was going to go well and that the bubble was going to be strictly respected with controlled entries and exits.
‘Now that we can see that this is not the case, I am waiting for him to come and explain to us what has happened.
Sports minister Roxana Maracineanu is investigating the current France rugby team outbreak
‘If nothing happens, if we don’t look into this chain of contaminations and they don’t explain to us how it could happen, then the authorisation that has been given can be withdrawn.’
The Six Nations have yet to reveal a date for the re-arranged match between tournament favourites France and Scotland.