Ireland v France in doubt due to hotel quarantine policy

IRFU and Six Nations unable to confirm if management and players are exempt

Ireland are set to play France in the Women’s Six Nations at Energia Park, Donnybrook this Saturday. File photograph: Inpho

Ireland are set to play France in the Women’s Six Nations at Energia Park, Donnybrook this Saturday. File photograph: Inpho

 

The Department of Sport, under Catherine Martin, will ultimately decide if the French women’s squad can travel to Dublin under an elite athlete’s exemption to play next Saturday’s Six Nations semi-final.

A statement on Sunday from the department explained that “engagements are ongoing between government departments to develop options to facilitate sporting activity involving travel to/from countries on the mandatory quarantine list.”

Another possible solution to hotel quarantine restrictions in the Republic of Ireland would be to move the fixture from Donnybrook to the Kingspan stadium in Belfast.

The winner travels to England for a title decider on April 24th. The IRFU are “looking at all possible options.”

The match is in doubt due to the Irish government’s updated mandatory hotel quarantine policy. From Thursday at 4am travellers to Ireland from France will be escorted to a selected hotel for 12 nights in isolation at a cost of €1,875.

Currently, the IRFU and the Six Nations were unable to confirm if the French management and players, who are semi-professional, are exempt from mandatory quarantine.

“We are in close contact with the IRFU who are addressing with the Irish authorities the latest travel restrictions,” said a Six Nations spokesperson. “We are exploring all possible options to play the Ireland versus France match.”

An IRFU spokesperson added: “We’re looking at all possible options.” Alternative options to playing the game were not revealed.

This is the latest challenge facing Adam Griggs’ Ireland team, who scored seven tries during Saturday’s 45-0 win over Wales at Cardiff Arms Park.

“I was supposed to be getting married yesterday but unfortunately Covid put an end to that and pushed it out a little and now I’m here doing what I love with my teammates so what more can I as for,” said Hannah Tyrrell, the woman of the match, after an excellent display at outhalf in Cardiff.

The French squad will need to be granted an exemption, as elite athletes, in order to play in Dublin.

Travel into and out of France is “totally and strictly discouraged” by their government due to a the “very active spread” of Covid-19 and its variants.

This fixture was cancelled in October, forcing an incomplete ending to the 2020 Six Nations, due to an outbreak of Covid in the French squad. The French Federation had been widely praised for switching the tie from Villeneuve d’Ascq to Donnybrook so the amateur Irish players could return to work, and avoid quarantine, on their return home.

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