France have been cleared to take part in the Guinness Six Nations after their sports minister announced the easing of quarantine rules for participating teams.
The French government was seeking clarity from tournament organisers before agreeing that sides arriving into Paris from non-EU destinations, or Les Bleus facing England at Twickenham on March 13, would not be subject to quarantine restrictions.
The Six Nations had drawn up contingency plans in the event the green light was not given, but the competition will now proceed as planned due to the introduction of tightened coronavirus safety measures.
“It was a decision everyone in rugby was awaiting. The FFR (French Rugby Federation) submitted to us a rigorous, strict protocol, which was then submitted to the health authorities,” sports minister Roxana Maracineanu told the France 2 television channel.
“The decision has been taken within government to ensure that the Six Nations championship is held on the scheduled dates, starting February 6, with a bio-secure bubble, as was the case with the Tour de France.”
Among the enhanced protocols brought in for the tournament is the introduction of an additional round of testing for each team, the second taking place in the latter part of the week.
Maracineanu revealed that the reason players have been granted exemption from quarantine is because they will be “tested every three days and remain in a closed bubble”.
France have limited the size of their squad to 31 players, while England have set a ceiling of 28 for the entire Championship.
Concerns over cross-border travel saw the French government block their Top 14 clubs from competing in Europe last month, raising the prospect of disruption to the Six Nations if Paris declined to soften its position.
Trips to European Union destinations Italy and Ireland had been given clearance, but the visit to England and the arrival of Scotland and Wales at the Stade de France were the stumbling blocks.