Italy's Gloucester scrum-half Stephen Varney has tested positive for coronavirus ahead of upcoming Six Nations game against Ireland.

Welsh-born Varney, who had been called up for the first time by Italy coach Franco Smith, tested positive following a series of molecular tests carried out on the squad gathered in Rome.

"The positive athlete, Stephen Varney, is asymptomatic and was immediately isolated from the rest of the team group," the FIR said.

"Varney had tested negative for swabs previously performed at his home club."

The FIR added: "The national team continues the gathering in Rome in compliance with the provisions of the competent health authority."

Varney, 19, was one of six players to move up from Italy's under-20s set-up and was competing for a starting berth with former Gloucester teammate Callum Braley, now at Treviso, and Zebre's Marcello Violi.

Italy are scheduled to play Ireland in Dublin at the Aviva Stadium on 24 October and England on 31 October in Rome.

The Azzurri fell to a 25th consecutive defeat in the tournament last time out with a 17-0 loss to Scotland in Rome in February and were set to take the wooden spoon for the 15th time when the coronavirus pandemic stopped the tournament in March.