Italy and Gloucester's Stephen...


Italy and Gloucester's Stephen Varney isolating after positive Covid-19 test

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Welsh-born Gloucester scrum-half Stephen Varney has been isolated from the Italy squad after testing positive for Covid-19.

The 19-year-old was promoted to the senior squad from the under-20s for the Six Nations matches against Ireland and England later this month.

An official statement from Italian rugby's governing body revealed the news this afternoon.

"The Italian Rugby Federation informs that a cycle of molecular tests to which the athletes and staff of the Male National Team were subjected highlighted a case of positivity to COVID-19 in a summoned athlete, registered with a Club affiliated with a foreign Federation," reads the statement.

"The positive athlete, Stephen Varney (Gloucester Rugby, rookie), is asymptomatic and was immediately isolated from the rest of the Team Group. Varney had tested negative for swabs previously performed at his home club.

"FIR has activated all the procedures envisaged and informed the reference health authorities, in full compliance with the regulations in force.  The National team continues the meeting in Rome in compliance with the provisions of the competent health authority. Updates will be released as they become available. "

Varney was one of six players promoted from Italy's under-20 set-up as head coach Franco Smith named a 33-man preliminary squad earlier this month.

The teenager was hoping to challenge Treviso's Callum Braley and Zebre's Marcello Violi for a starting berth in the team.

Italy and Ireland are due to play their rescheduled match, postponed in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, on Saturday 24 October at the Aviva Stadium behind closed doors.

The Azzurri complete their campaign with a home match against England seven days later.

Meanwhile, Manu Vunipola will get the chance to go up against his cousins Billy and Mako at Twickenham later this month.

The Saracens fly-half has been called up to the Barbarians rugby union squad to face England and will be joined by former international Richard Wigglesworth and club team-mate Jackson Wray.

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