Mike Blair hopes rearranged games avoid Six Nations clash

Date published: December 30 2021 - Planet Rugby

Edinburgh boss Mike Blair is desperate that the postponed United Rugby Championship matches between them and Glasgow Warriors are not rescheduled during the upcoming Six Nations.

Due to the issue of Covid-19 in the Warriors’ camp, both Scottish derbies have been called off and will be rearranged for a later date.

There is space during the annual international northern hemisphere tournament, but that would certainly lessen the spectacle due to Scotland call-ups.

Both Scottish clubs have been badly hit by international selection in previous seasons but the calendars were aligned this term to ensure matches did not clash with the Six Nations.

However, a raft of postponements throughout the league may prompt a rethink by URC officials.

The Scottish derbies have never gone head to head with internationals and Blair hopes to keep it that way.

Difficult to schedule during the Six Nations

The former Scotland captain and coach said: “Being new in this job, I don’t know how much of a say I have got. I would imagine not a huge amount.

“I would imagine my bosses, the URC, they will tell me when the game is and to prepare the team as best we can for that date.

“I would imagine it would be difficult to do during the Six Nations because ourselves and Glasgow are going to have, I imagine, 15-20 players involved in that.

“You don’t know if Scotland are going to call up an extra tighthead at the last minute to make the game unavailable.

“It’s very difficult to schedule into the calendar. But there are cleverer people than me out there and I am sure they will find ways of hopefully getting the game going because the crowd love these games, we love these games, the players love it.”

Blair was speaking about an hour before the decision was taken to call off the second game and he had little idea about what was about to follow.

The 40-year-old got out of self-isolation himself on Tuesday and was getting more players back after going into Monday’s scheduled game with 17 unavailable.

Edinburgh’s lateral flow tests all came back negative on Wednesday but Glasgow announced that a number of positive cases had been reported.

A Warriors statement added: “The URC Medical Advisory Group has liaised with the medical teams at Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh, as well as Public Health Scotland, and deemed that this fixture cannot go ahead as scheduled.

“The United Rugby Championship will now consider available dates to reschedule the game.

“Glasgow Warriors continues to support its players that are isolating and are focused on mitigating any further risks to players and staff through its stringent COVID-19 protocols.”

Even Blair was unaware of how many cases Glasgow were dealing with.

“My understanding is a game can be called off for health and safety purposes,” he added.

“So, if they had two or three front-rowers out, and it would be a safety concern to bring an under-20s prop in, or something like that, that would be where a decision would be made.

“If a centre has to play on the wing, then my understanding is a centre has to play on the wing.

“But if it’s unsafe to play the game, whether that be because of the threat of injury, or you have not done scrummaging in a month, or you have not trained, like Scarlets for example calling off their game, if there are health and safety reasons behind it then we take the opinion of the medics.

“We can’t investigate, we can’t say ‘well, tell us who it was’, because they don’t have to tell us.”

Possible Six Nations impact after France vaccine policy

The Six Nations could be impacted, as well as January’s Champions Cup ties, after France chose to implement a new vaccine policy.

French president Emmanuel Macron has stated that all athletes in France must be fully vaccinated from January 15 and will soon decide whether that also applies to visiting players.

In the Premiership, they introduced an incentive to get at least 85 per cent of players and staff vaccinated, a figure which is reported to have been reached a couple of months ago.

However, there are sport stars that have publicly said they will not get the jab, including England and Exeter Chiefs centre Henry Slade.