Ireland are due to host Italy at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on March 7. But Irish minister of health Simon Harris says the match “should not go ahead” amid coronavirus fears.
Eleven deaths have been reported in Italy and hundreds more have tested positive for the virus.
“We’ll be publishing guidelines in relation to mass gatherings shortly,” Harris told RTE.
“But we’ve obviously taken a decision in relation to the Ireland vs Italy rugby game.
“The very clear view of the Public Health Emergency Team was that the game should not go ahead, that it would constitute a significant risk because a very large number of people would be travelling from what is now an infected region.
“So now my department will be contacting the IRFU in relation to this.
“I know it will come as a great disappointment to many, but it is important to make decisions about public health above and beyond all other considerations.”
Will Ireland vs Italy be called off?
No announcement regarding the cancellation of the Six Nations fixture has been made.
But the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) said they have sought an “urgent meeting” with heath minister Harris.
- Six Nations 2020: How much do rugby players weigh? Who is heaviest?
In a statement, the IRFU added: “Until such time as the IRFU has had contact with the Minister and gets an understanding of the government’s strategic policy on travel to and from Ireland and the cancellation of mass gatherings, it is not in a position to comment further.”
A statement from the Six Nations on Tuesday read: “Six Nations is aware of today’s recommendation from the Irish Health Minister in relation to the upcoming Six Nations Championship match between Ireland and Italy on Saturday March 7th.
“The IRFU has sought an urgent meeting with the Irish Government to discuss the matter further and we will remain in close contact with them regarding the outcome of those discussions.”
Fans have since flooded to social media following the news the game could be called off.
One wrote on Twitter: “Come on lads public safety has to be put first.
“It’s not about the match it’s about the travelling fans. Surely you don’t need a meeting with the government to tell you that.”
Another commented: “The IRFU need to cop onto themselves and cancel this match immediately and stop threatening public health over a stupid rugby match.”
A third added: “Obviously I’m guessing, but I’d imagine they would have no problem cancelling.
“I’d say the issue is the disrespect of Harris issuing a statement without even telling them first.
“Match time is important to players, I wonder if the match could be televised with no crowd present?”
Source: Read Full Article