Charles Ollivon's France finished second on points difference to England in last year's Six Nations

Paris (AFP) - French sports minister Roxana Maracineanu said on Tuesday she needs further “guarantees” from other governments to allow France to face Ireland and England in the upcoming Six Nations.

Les Bleus are set to open the tournament by travelling to Italy on February 6 before heading to Dublin a week later and Twickenham on March 13 but French authorities are worried about a new variant of Covid-19 in Britain and Ireland.

“We keep the first match. On the other hand, against Ireland and England we absolutely need to have the necessary guarantees from these countries,” Maracineanu said at a press conference.

“There has to be proof that the other nations’ virus framework respects the same requirements in terms of precaution.

“We expect the same thing from the other teams,” she added.

Earlier, Maracineanu held a meeting with the French rugby federation to discuss the competition, which also features Wales and Scotland, and its virus protocol.

On Monday, this season’s club European Cups were postponed to “February at least” due to concerns with the strain.

The French Top 14 and the Pro14 have moved domestic fixtures to fill the gaps over the next two weekends but the English Premiership is set to leave the dates empty for its clubs.