A global pandemic, riots and frozen pitches have all caused games to be postponed
Six Nations postponements are not that much of a common occurrence. However, from time to time they still happen. Over the Five Nations into the Six Nations years, there have been a number of different reasons for postponed games, or in some cases, complete cancellations.
Covid-19 is perhaps the most high-profile recent reason for fixture cancellations at the championship, but here are some other instances where teams had to play at a later date below.
Five and Six Nations postponements
The first postponed fixture in the championship was Scotland v France. A riot the year before in Paris caused relations between the two nations’ unions to fracture, cancelling their 1914 encounter as a result. Consequently, the teams refused to play each other in Scotland, despite the championship proceeding as normal.
England were due to play Ireland at the beginning of February, but King George VI’s death days before the intended fixture postponed the game until late March due to King George VI’s passing days before the intended fixture.
A smallpox epidemic breaking out in South Wales caused the postponement of Ireland’s home fixture against Wales, moving from March until November later that year.
At the height of ‘The Troubles’, the IRA threatened to bomb Ireland’s match against Scotland, which was due to take place just days after Bloody Sunday. Instead, officials left the championship incomplete after cancelling Ireland’s home fixtures against Scotland and Wales.
Heavy snow at Landsdowne Road postponed Ireland’s game against Wales, although play resumed just a week later due to a free week for teams.
Bad weather sweeping across Western Europe caused three fixtures postponements in 1985. Postponements meant Ireland faced England and France faced Wales in late March instead, while Wales waited until April to play England after a frozen Cardiff pitch postponed their fixture.
England v Scotland and Wales v Ireland were both postponed on January 17 due to poor travelling conditions. The pitches in London and Cardiff were both deemed perfectly playable, but the decision was made to postpone the fixtures until April after it was determined too dangerous for Scottish, Irish and northern English fans to travel for the games.
The outbreak of Foot & Mouth disease at the start of the millennium caused Ireland to postpone all three of their fixtures against the other home nations, amid concerns for their population and livestock. First detected in February, Ireland had already played France and Italy before the outbreak. Postponing the three fixtures until September and October allowed Ireland to scupper England’s hopes of a Grand Slam after winning 20-14, although they still won the championship.
Just ten minutes before kick-off, officials deemed France’s pitch for their second round game against Ireland unplayable, moving the fixture from 11 February to 4 March with the temperature well below freezing, at -5. Not since the 1980s had bad weather postponed a game.
All it took to halt an entire round of Six Nations fixtures was a global pandemic, as Covid-19 caused four postponements in the championship. The championship was still undecided as Italy’s penultimate match against Ireland, and all three of the final round fixtures, moved from March until October. England eventually emerged victorious after dispatching Italy in Rome, although they were unable to lift the trophy in front of fans as the virus continues to spread.
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