French rugby head coach Fabien Galthie left his side's coronavirus bubble, it has emerged ©Getty Images

French Rugby Federation (FFR) President Bernard Laporte has backed Fabien Galthie after it emerged the country's head coach left the team's coronavirus bubble before an outbreak of cases among the squad.

Eleven French players have tested positive for COVID-19 with the crisis forcing the postponement of Sunday's (February 28) Six Nations clash with Scotland in Paris.

France could now be withdrawn from the tournament by Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu if she is not satisfied by the FFR's explanation for the cases.

Galthie returned the camp's first positive test after France beat Ireland 15-13 in Dublin on February 14, with captain Charles Ollivon now among the infected players.

It has been revealed that 51-year-old Galthie was at the Stade Jean-Bouin in Paris to see his son Mathis play on February 7.

This was outside of the team's bubble and just a day after France had beaten Italy 50-10 in Rome in their first Six Nations match.

Players are also under fire amid suggestions they ate waffles in a restaurant in the Italian capital before their victory over the Azzurri.

Strict coronavirus measures are in place to allow this year's Six Nations to go ahead safely, with the positive cases forcing the entire French squad into quarantine.

Despite this, Laporte refused to criticise his head coach who watched the match at Stade Jean-Bouin with Thomas Lombard, the director general at French club Stade Francais.

"For me, he has the right to leave from the moment he is masked," Laporte, the vice-chairman of World Rugby, said to France 3.

Roxana Maracineanu has warned that France face Six Nations exclusion ©Getty Images
Roxana Maracineanu has warned that France face Six Nations exclusion ©Getty Images

"He was outside.

"He watched the match alongside Thomas Lombard, who himself is tested every three days and also wore a mask. 

"I don't see where the problem could be. 

"But then again I'm not a doctor.

"Why wouldn't I support him [Galthie]? 

"I am not a prosecutor. 

"And it's not because I really like Fabien. 

"He knows very well that I don't give gifts to people." 

If Maracineanu withdraws France from the Six Nations, the legitimacy of the whole tournament would be placed into question. 

It would see Wales crowned as champions if, as expected, they win their match with Italy in Rome on March 13.

The French coronavirus outbreak threatens to derail this season's Six Nations ©Getty Images
The French coronavirus outbreak threatens to derail this season's Six Nations ©Getty Images

France and Wales are currently the only two unbeaten sides and are due to meet in the last round of fixtures in Paris on March 20 - a potential winner-takes-all clash for the title and the Grand Slam.

"We asked for an investigation from the FFR and from Bernard Laporte, who himself came to see us before the tournament to present us the protocol and tell us that everything was going to go well, that the bubble was going to be strictly respected with controlled entries and exits," Maracineanu told L'Équipe TV.

"Now that we can see that this is not the case, I am waiting for him to come and explain to us what has happened.

"If nothing happens, if we don't look into this chain of contaminations and they don't explain to us how it could happen, then the authorisation that has been given [to play] can be withdrawn." 

France's match with Scotland has yet to be rearranged, with potential dates presenting difficulties as club players may not be available.

Former Scotland player Kenny Logan told The Telegraph a 28-0 walkover win for his country should be considered.

"I would like to see Scotland play France, of course I would, but it's difficult to see how that can happen without Scotland losing key players and being at a huge disadvantage," he said.