Six Nations: Security Guidelines and Expectations

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Ireland squad for the 2021 Guinness Six Nations Championship. Credit: IRFU.

Considering the current global situation, France wants England and Ireland to offer safety guarantees before going ahead with their Six Nations matches.

The shadow of coronavirus has engulfed the entire world, and teams taking part in the Six Nations championship are worried about the safety of their players. Thus, France is seeking guarantees from England and Ireland for their February 14 and March 13 matches. 

France is scheduled to play Ireland on February 14 in Dublin, and the team is playing their next match with England on March 13 at Twickenham. The government has approved the fixture in Italy, and the French government is demanding safety assurances from Ireland and England. The French government is adamant on safety assurances for allowing the national side to tour these countries for the Six Nations. 

The French government has approved the opening fixture of the Championship scheduled to be played in Rome against Italy. The February 6 match is on schedule because of the quick approval by the Sports Ministry held by Roxana Maracineanu. 

Concerns About the Surge in Covid-19 Cases

Sports Ministry of France and the other concerned authorities are worried about the rising number of Covid-19 cases in England and Ireland. The French government has already banned their clubs from participating in the European competitions scheduled for January.  

All the participating countries in the Six Nations met and discussed the situation in Paris last week, but the deadlock persists. However, the good news is that the government is still holding discussions with the organizers. They’re trying their best to convince the authorities that all Covid-19 safety protocols are being followed. 

The chances of the tournament taking place are bleak if France withdraws as they’re scheduled to play Ireland on February 14 at the Aviva Stadium and will take the field against England on March 13 at the Twickenham stadium. 

In a recent statement by the Sports Minister of France, he mentioned that France is going to keep the first match, but they need a complete guarantee from England and Ireland. The minister further emphasized that host nations have to offer proof of their measures against the virus to maintain the same level of safety as the other nations. The expectations are not unreal as the whole world is reeling under the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Women’s Under-20s and Six Nations competitions, which are usually scheduled concurrently with the men’s, have to be postponed until April. However, the official announcement or confirmation about the same is yet to be done.  

Suspension of Challenge Cup and Champions Cup

Both the Challenge Cup and Champions Cup remain suspended until further notice because of the surge in Covid-19 infections. In its recent announcement, the European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) said that the suspension would continue till they review the situation later this year. 

The new Covid-19 strain has forced the organizers to postpone both the rounds of pool games in the European club competitions scheduled for January 15-17 and January 22-24. Even the French government advised the national teams to avoid playing cross-border matches scheduled for Saturday. 

Two-Week Break in Premiership Games 

Pat Lam of Bristol Bears and Rob Baxtor of Exeter have opined that Premiership games need to be rescheduled so as to free up the existing fixture schedule. This season will be the busiest due to cancellations and postponements because English clubs will play more games to compensate for the lost time.  

Forwarding the Premiership games will free up space for the matches that the clubs will play in the European tournaments. Both the European tournaments are scheduled later this year, along with the present Premiership weekends. 

Premiership Rugby announced a two-week break as soon as the announcement for the suspension of Challenge Cup and Championship Cup was concluded. In a statement by Darren Childs, Chief Executive of Premiership Rugby, he said that to uphold the welfare of everyone involved in the Premiership Rugby, the organizers must go for a break this season. In contrast, everyone has the opportunity to take much-needed rest. Players, match officials, management, and other staff have worked hard, and this is going to be a welcome break. 

Fans need not feel dejected as The Gallagher Premiership Rugby season is all set to return on January 29 when the Bristol Bears take the field against Bath Rugby on their home ground. 

You can enjoy sports at home

If ‘Rugby on-the-go’ is your mantra and you love watching matches on your phone, iPad, or laptop, you will be looking for options to watch Six Nations. The DAZN streaming service has secured the rights to broadcast the matches. Thus, it is one of the options available to you. However, it will probably be available only to viewers in Germany, Austria, Canada, and Switzerland. Luckily, if you have no option to watch these matches from your current location, you can consider an easy workaround. Install a VPN and quickly change your location to a country that a streaming service approves. You can perform this by connecting to a VPN server, which masks your IP address. Thus, all the matches you desire will become available to you.

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