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Bernard Laporte insists this year's Six Nations will go ahead. 

The tournament's future has been cast in doubt by the French government, who are concerned about the spread of the recently-discovered British strain of COVID-19.

Pressure from the French Ministry for Sport forced the suspension of the Heineken Champions Cup pool stage this week.

The 2021 Six Nations is due to get underway on February 6 with France's game away to Italy.

So far according to Roxana Maracineanu, that's the only Les Bleus game guaranteed to go ahead. France's Deputy Minister for Sport wants more assurances regarding player safety before the government will green-light trips to Dublin or London.

France's game away to Ireland is scheduled for St. Valentine's Day.

But speaking to FranceInfo, Laporte said, "I understand some are sceptical, but it will take place."

The vice-chair of World Rugby added, "Firstly, because we had, during the autumn [Nations Cup] put in place a protocol which worked very, very well.

“The proof is that as soon as in a team, in this case Fiji, were detected Covid cases, they were out of competition. It worked well.

“There is going to be a Six Nations protocol. Once again, all of this makes us very optimistic.

"We will go further, there will be even more tests.

“We adapt to the conditions, but it’s the same principle – a real health bubble.

“A lot of organisation, a lot of foresight, with a Covid manager in each nation. I repeat, it worked well in the autumn, it will work well during this Six Nations time.”

Meanwhile, Connacht players will have one more chance to impress Ireland head coach Andy Farrell before the Six Nations.

Their Guinness PRO14 game at home to Cardiff has been rearranged for Sunday week at the Sportsground.

It means Ulster are the only province without a game in the week left fallow by the Heineken Champions Cup’s suspension.

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