Star France scrum-half Antoine Dupont has tested positive for Covid-19, the French Rugby Federation (FFR) announced on Friday, making him a doubt for next weekend’s Six Nations home match against Scotland.
Dupont returned a positive result after head coach Fabien Galthie was placed in isolation earlier this week ahead of the fixture with the Scots in Paris on February 28.
In-form Dupont, 24, will need to return a negative result during the next round of testing to be able to face Gregor Townsend’s men next Sunday.
Eleven other squad members, including captain Charles Ollivon, were negative.
“Following the first PCR tests undertaken on the morning of Friday, February 19, the first 12 showed 11 negative results,” the FFR said.
“Today he (Dupont) is asymptomatic. In line with the Covid-19 protocol he will remain in isolation over the next days,” it added.
The federation later added that the isolation period will be for seven days.
Toulouse’s Dupont has scored a try and assisted four others as Galthie’s side lead the Six Nations table after two wins, including last Sunday’s 15-13 victory in Ireland.
Les Bleus are eyeing a first title since 2010 and have never claimed a Six Nations Grand Slam in a campaign with trips to Dublin an Twickenham.
“It’s the big blow for France. We imagine that there are other players are at risk of being positive for Covid so we hope it won’t be too significant for France who absolutely need guys like him,” ex-France lock Jerome Thion told Canal+.
“We know very well he’s France’s master of play,” he added.
Following the 50-10 victory in Italy, where Dupont crossed, New Zealand scrum-half Aaron Smith said Dupont was “on another level” compared to other players around the world.
No Ireland cases
Ireland head coach Andy Farrell said this week no positive results were found in his set-up after two rounds of testing.
Six Nations organisers said they are in contact with the FFR.
French sports minister Roxana Maracineanu said earlier Friday she was happy with the protocols despite threatening to obstruct France’s participation in the competition due to fears about the variant of the virus found in Britain.
Les Bleus’ players have returned to their homes for a rest weekend without Test matches scheduled before coming back to the team’s training centre on Sunday.
If Dupont is unable to face Scotland, Galthie has Toulon’s Baptiste Serin and Sebastien Bezy as replacement options.
Two other coaches, one un-named as well as set-piece specialist William Servat have also contracted the illness.
France’s seven-a-side squad pulled out of a tournament in Madrid this weekend after also recording cases of the illness.
They had trained with the 15-a-side set-up in the week before the success in the Irish capital.