Scotland’s Six Nations match with France lined up for 26 March

SCOTLAND’S POSTPONED GUINNESS Six Nations match with France is being lined up for 26 March with the Gallagher Premiership clubs open to the release of players for the new date, the PA news agency understands.

The Friday-night slot is the only window currently being considered by tournament organisers and the date has been given momentum by the Top 14 clubs coming to arrangement with the French Rugby Federation over making their stars, including starting Scotland out-half Finn Russell, available.

And the English top flight have indicated during discussions that they are also willing to make their Scotland players available to Gregor Townsend even though the date falls outside of the international window.

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The round three game was due to take place on Sunday last but was postponed when a coronavirus outbreak swept through the French squad, affecting 12 front-line players including captain Charles Ollivon and reigning player of the Championship Antoine Dupont.

It is understood that the Premiership clubs have softened their customary hard-line stance on player release outside international windows in recognition of the complications caused by the pandemic.

Given that the match could be a title decider and may even see unbeaten France crowned Grand Slam champions, it became imperative when finding a new date that both teams would have full player access.

The development means that Scotland, who have 13 players based in England, would have access to the likes of Exeter’s Stuart Hogg and Jonny Gray and Racing 92’s Finn Russell for the Paris showdown.

Six Nations officials are hoping to make an announcement over the next two days once arrangements with the Premiership have been finalised.

If that is achieved then the only remaining stumbling block would be the threat of the French government to withdrew Les Bleus in response to the coronavirus outbreak which is being investigated at the demand of sports minister Roxana Maracineanu.

It has emerged that France head coach Fabien Galthie left the squad’s bubble on the opening weekend to watch his son play rugby in Paris.