Scotland must face France in pursuit of the Grand Slam on Sunday at the Stade de France. Gregor Townsend’s side have played two games, won one – a famous win over England at Twickenham – so far in this year’s tournament, while Fabien Galthie’s side are two out of two, after a historic victory against Ireland in Dublin.
The complication comes, however, that France has been hit by a Covid epidemic. Eleven members of the larger squad – as well as three backstage staff, Galthie being one – have tested positive for the virus and will not play any role in the match in Paris.
France named an updated and much-modified squad of 31 players for the game, all of whom tested negative for the coronavirus on Monday evening, but the decision on whether the game can be played safely rests in the hands of the tournament organizers. A Six Nations panel will make a decision Wednesday afternoon.
If the match goes, France will head to Stade de France on the back of exceptionally limited preparation and miss their captain, flanker Charles Ollivon, as well as supernatural scrum-half Antoine Dupont.
Scotland will imagine their chances of a first victory in Paris since 1999; it’s no surprise that the SRU issued a statement on Monday night asking for the game to be played on Sunday if it was deemed safe to do so.
When is France against Scotland?
Sunday February 28.
What time is the kick-off?
The match will start at 3 p.m. GMT.
What TV channel is it showing on – how can I watch it live?
The TBEN will broadcast this match live. The Telegraph will also bring you live coverage throughout the game.
What is the news of the team?
In total, the Blues make seven changes to the team for the clash against Scotland.
Dorian Aldegheri from Toulouse and the Racing 92 duo Teddy Baubigny and Hassane Kolingar, who between them have 10 caps, came on the front row. The uncapped scrum half of the Bordeaux Begles, Maxime Lucu, replaces Dupont.
Crosses Jonathan Danty from Stade Français and Yoram Moefana from Bordeaux Begles and uncapped winger Donovan Taofifenua from Racing 92 have also joined the squad.
Flanker Ollivon, pillar Cyril Baille, hooker Peato Mauvaka, lock Romain Taofifenua and rear Brice Dulin were the five new cases discovered to cast doubt on the visit to Scotland.
Nine of the 23 players who sent Ireland to a 15-13 loss have tested positive.
PA / TBEN
Fly-half Adam Hastings will return to the Scottish squad for Sunday’s Six Nations game against France following a shoulder injury, while full-back Josh Bayliss was called up for the first time, a declared Scottish Rugby on Sunday.
Hastings was injured against Wales in last year’s Six Nations game in October.
Uncapped Bayliss was included in the squad after qualifying for Scotland through his Aberdeen-born grandmother.
“We welcome Josh to our squad as we look to build on our first two games of the Championship,” head coach Gregor Townsend said in a statement.
“We have been following his performances with Bath and a combination of his form and a few injuries in our team gave us the opportunity to involve him for the first time.”
Scotland will be without center Cameron Redpath and full-back Gary Graham and Blade Thomson, who have all returned to their respective clubs due to injuries.
Prop Zander Fagerson will also miss the game, with Scottish rugby set to appeal their four-game ban following his red card in their 25-24 loss to Wales on February 13.
Scotland, who won against England in the opener before losing to Wales, are fourth in the Six Nations table with five points.
What did we say about the teams?
Charles Richardson took a look at France’s attack following their victory in Dublin and, although the staff may change for this weekend, he found a lot to admire. Columnist Doddie Weir asks, however, after outclassing England, why can’t Scotland win the Six Nations? A victory in Paris this Sunday could allow them to regain first place.
Meanwhile, Ben Coles took a look at the last time France won the Six Nations – and the Grand Slam – in 2010 and how the perfect blend of experience, youth and ideas took them to the title. .
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What is our prediction?
If the game continues and there is still an if, then Scotland will appreciate their chances. France will have faced serious disruption and will miss its captain and star man.
But we saw in France’s narrow Fall Nations Cup final defeat to England that Galthie’s depth is vast. The Blues should still have enough in Paris, but it may not be as easy as it could have been.
France 26 Scotland 19