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Rugby: Six Nations impact expected over new French rule on player vaccinations

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 29 Dec 2021, 2:08pm
England beat France 23–20 in their Six Nations clash on March 14. Photo / Getty Images
England beat France 23–20 in their Six Nations clash on March 14. Photo / Getty Images

Rugby: Six Nations impact expected over new French rule on player vaccinations

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 29 Dec 2021, 2:08pm

A new vaccine mandate set to be introduced in France could have repercussions for the 2022 Six Nations series for teams visiting the nation. 

From January 15, all professional sportspeople in France must be fully jabbed. As things stand, it appears teams playing in France will only be able to pick players they can prove have had their jabs, however the Daily Telegraph reports the government "will confirm whether the mandatory requirement will also apply to visiting teams from outside the country." 

It could prove to cause some selection headaches for other nations, with France set to host Italy in Paris on February 7, Ireland on March 24 and England on March 30 in the final match of their campaign. England's first choice centre Henry Slade said last May that he was not going to have a vaccine. 

The Six Nations won't be the only high-profile sporting event that could be impacted by a vaccine mandate, as English premier League club Chelsea would also need to comply with the ruling when they face Lille in the Champions League. 

A reported 98 per cent of professional rugby players are vaccinated in France, with the figure marginally lower in football. 

A report from The Times published last week said nearly one in six English Premier League players have refused to get vaccinated, with just 77 per cent of players double-jabbed, 84 per cent having had at least one dose of the vaccine, but 16 per cent having declined to be vaccinated. 

Vaccinations have become a sticking point around the sporting world. Athletes in the NBL and NRL have been released from their clubs for refusing to get a vaccine. NBA star Kyrie Irving is yet to play a game for the Brooklyn Nets this season due to his stance on getting vaccinated, while several others remain unvaccinated. 

In a similar situation to the Six Nations teams, ESPN reports NBA players who are not vaccinated against Covid-19 will no longer be allowed to play in Toronto as of January 15.