Fiji's participation in Autumn Nations Cup in serious doubt after they return 29 positive Covid tests

Daniel Schofield
·2 min read
Fiji players huddle - AFP
Fiji players huddle - AFP

Italy’s match against Fiji has been cancelled after the Pacific Islanders returned 29 positive Covid-19 cases, throwing the Autumn Nations Cup into further chaos.

Fiji had been forced to forfeit last weekend’s match against France 28-0 after returning six positive tests last week and now it seems the outbreak has spread through nearly the entire squad. They were due to play Italy in Ancona on Saturday. It also throws Fiji’s final group B match against Scotland, as well as their play-off match, into severe doubt.

That means that Scotland’s match against France at Murrayfield on Saturday is likely to serve as a group decider. Yet the wider tournament will be far poorer for the absence of Fiji who were invited to add a dash of Pacific flair to the inaugural competition. Players such as Semi Radradra could have brought considerable box-office appeal for new broadcasters Amazon.

It also continues a wretched run of luck for new Fiji coach Vern Cotter who was also in charge of the Barbarians when their match against England was cancelled after players from the invitational side broke Covid protocol. He is yet to take charge of a Fiji match.

A statement from the tournament organiser said: “The organiser of the Autumn Nations Cup today announced the cancellation of the Italy v Fiji match due to take place on Saturday 21st November 2020 in Ancona.

“The decision was taken after the latest round of COVID-19 tests undertaken yesterday by the Fijian team returned 29 positive cases this morning. The Tournament organiser remains in constant contact with the Fijian squad to address the situation.  The main priority at present is the welfare of all players and management. The potential impact on Fiji’s remaining matches is currently under review.”