Ireland’s Six Nations clash with Italy has been postponed due to coronavirus fears. The tie was due to take place in Dublin on Saturday, January 7 but the authorities will now look for an alternative date.
The IRFU this afternoon released a statement which read: “The IRFU had a positive meeting with Minister Harris and his advisors today, where we requested a formal instruction as to the staging of the Ireland v Italy international matches over the weekend of 6/8 March.
“At the outset we made it clear that the IRFU was supportive of the Governments’ need to protect public health in relation to the Coronavirus.
“We were then advised, formally, that The National Public Health Emergency team has determined that the series of matches should not proceed, in the interests of Public Health.
“The IRFU is happy to comply with this instruction.
“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.”
Italy has been struggling to deal with the coronavirus in recent weeks and a host of Serie A football matches have been cancelled.
There have been 11 reported deaths in the country because of the disease and 11 towns in the north are on lockdown.
Ireland’s chief medical officer Tony Holohan was fully behind the cancellation.
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“It was the only responsible decision that could have been made,” he said.
“What was of concern to us was the nature of the mass gathering, a large group of people coming together from an affected area where we don’t believe we fully understand the community transmission pattern in that area.
“We think there may be many more cases there that have yet to be identified. We don’t think any other responsible decision could have been made.”
If the match is cancelled it could cost around £839,000 (€1million) – but who would foot the downfall?
“We are having an engagement with the IRFU after this conference and I don’t want to pre-empt the outcome of that discussion,” Holohan added.
Any complete cancellation of the match could also cost Ireland the title as they are third in the standings, tied on nine points with second-placed England.
France currently lead the table with 13 points – but they face Ireland in the final week of the tournament.
England are set to face Italy in the final round of fixtures but no decision has yet been made regarding that match.
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