The French Government has advised its rugby clubs not to compete in any European competitions against British sides due to concerns over the United Kingdom’s testing policies for COVID-19.
The French Sports Ministry met with organisers of the Champions and Challenge Cups, European Professional Club Rugby and the Top 14 rugby league after some French rugby clubs called for a boycott of European competition in protest of the UK’s testing system.
Bayonne, who play in the Top 14, confirmed they would not fulfil their final two Challenge Cup fixtures after a COVID-19 outbreak in the team following a trip to Leicester in England three weeks ago.
Toulon are also protesting against British teams, after they were punished for refusing to play Welsh side Scarlets last month.
These moves could also affect the Six Nations, with Scotland, England and Wales all playing their matches on the UK mainland; although a decision on whether to postpone the French matches has not been made yet.
The 2021 edition is set to run from February 6 to March 20 and includes Scotland visiting Paris at the end of February and France travelling to England for their match on March 13.
"The French Government is moving, in the short term, towards the adoption of measures to restrict or even prohibit the participation of French team sport clubs in matches including teams from the United Kingdom," said the Sports Ministry.
"The Sports Ministry is writing this weekend to the Top 14, inviting it to postpone the next matches involving French clubs against British clubs, in accordance with the wishes expressed by several professional French rugby clubs over the last few days."
French clubs wanted testing to be conducted 72 hours before a match rather than at the start of the week.
They also want the adoption of Top 14 rules, where if three or more players test positive for COVID-19, the club isolates and does not play until the next tests come back negative.
Further action from the French Government could see sport between the two nations heavily disrupted.
Part of these proposals stem from the new COVID-19 strain in the UK, which has since spread to France, which has reportedly recorded 22 cases of the new variant.
The UK is now back in lockdown due to the spread of COVID-19, with more than 81,000 deaths reported from the virus.
The country has also recorded more than three million confirmed cases to date.
The UK earlier this week introduced new restrictions to international travellers, requiring them to have proof of a negative COVID-19 test on arrival.
This move was introduced for the first time almost 10 months after the country first went into lockdown.
In football, French clubs have not been drawn against British sides in the first knockout round of the Champions League and the Europa League, but could still be affected if the French Government stop clubs from travelling abroad.
Paris Saint-Germain are due to play Spanish giants Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League while Lille are set to host Ajax of The Netherlands in the round of 32 in the Europa League.
These two-leg matches are due to take place in February and March.
France’s men’s national football team is also set to travel to Kazakhstan and Bosnia and Herzegovina at the end of March for qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.