The men’s, women’s and U20 Six Nations ties have all been postponed

Ireland v Italy postponed due to coronavirus

The Ireland v Italy Six Nations matches due to take place over the weekend of 6-8 March have been postponed due to concerns over the coronavirus.

The IRFU were told by the National Public Health Emergency team that the three matches should not proceed in the interests of public health.

Italy has recorded nearly 400 coronavirus cases so far – the most of any country outside China – and there are growing concerns over the spread of Covid-19. Italian authorities have introduced restrictions over public gatherings in certain areas of the country to try to limit the spread of coronavirus.

The men’s match was due to be played on Saturday 7 March at the Aviva Stadium, with the women’s tie the following day at Energia Park and the U20 fixture on the Friday night at Irish Independent Park. All three will now need to be rescheduled.

The IRFU have released a statement saying: “We will immediately begin to work with our Six Nations partners to look at the possibility of rescheduling the matches and would hope to have an update on this in the coming days.”

The IRFU is advising ticket holders for the three matches to retain their tickets for now. They will receive tickets for the rescheduled matches or can opt for a refund, with information to be released as soon as possible.

This decision also throws into doubt the final round of matches between Italy and England due to take place on the weekend of 14-15 March, as well as potentially other fixtures in the championship. At present, all other Six Nations matches are scheduled to go ahead as planned.

A Six Nations statement read: “We will be holding further discussions with all six unions with respect to the rescheduling options for all the affected games, factoring in the current dynamic situation.

“All other matches are currently scheduled to go ahead as normal. We will continue to monitor the situation very closely with all unions and the respective government authorities and health organisations.”

The Italy v Scotland women’s match due to take place last Sunday has already been postponed, as have Guinness Pro14 matches scheduled to be held in Italy this weekend. The same could be true of more Six Nations fixtures.

The coronavirus has also led to the rescheduling of the Hong Kong and Singapore Sevens. These World Sevens Series tournaments were due to take place in April but have been moved to October. There are also growing concerns about how the outbreak could affect the Olympics.

In 2001, several Six Nations matches had to be rescheduled due to the foot-and-mouth outbreak and were played that autumn, while in 2012 the France v Ireland match was postponed due to a frozen pitch at the Stade de France and was moved to a fallow week.

That will not be possible this time and it will be interesting to see when these fixtures are rescheduled for in an already congested rugby calendar.

The March issue of Rugby World magazine – a Six Nations special – is on sale now.

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