Coronavirus: Six Nations games to go ahead, organisers say

This weekend's match between Ireland and Italy in Dublin was postponed on government advice due to the potential threat posed to public health

epa08242326 Ireland's Jonathan Sexton (R) in action during the Six Nations rugby match between England and Ireland at Twickenham stadium in London, Britain, 23 February 2020.  EPA/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA
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The remaining games of this year's Six Nations rugby championship will go ahead, subject to government intervention, despite fears over the coronavirus outbreak, organisers said.

This weekend's match between Ireland and Italy in Dublin was postponed on government advice due to the potential threat posed to public health, along with the women's and under-20 matches.

There had been fears that the games on March 14 between Italy and England in Rome and France and Ireland in Paris would be called off.

But representatives of the Six Unions and championship officials met in Paris on Monday and agreed that the two matches and the other games in England, Scotland and Wales over the final two rounds of the competition would take place.

"As it stands today, based on the latest information, all Six Nations matches currently scheduled are set to go ahead," organisers said.

"Six Nations is in contact with FIR [Italy's Rugby Federation] and RFU [England's Rugby Football Union] regarding the possibility of relocating the Women's and U20 Italy vs England matches to another Italian location and we will make a further announcement on this in due course.

"However, the Italy vs England senior men's match in Rome is planned to go ahead as scheduled."

The organisers said they intended to complete all 15 games across the three championships but would not commit to rescheduling fixtures while the situation was being assessed.

Organisers added they were preparing for potential changes, should the relevant governments take further action, while a new date for the postponed Ireland-Italy game had yet to be agreed.

The decision comes after French health minister Olivier Veran announced a temporary ban on all public gatherings with more than 5,000 people to try to curb the spread of the disease.

Italy has more than 2,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus since the contagion came to light in northern regions on Feb. 20 and 52 people have died.

The Italian government has extended the suspension of all sporting events until March 8 in the affected areas of Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia-Romagna, although Rome is currently not affected by those suspensions.

On Monday Asia Rugby announced it was postponing their tournaments  that had been scheduled between now and July “until further notice” because of the coronavirus outbreak.

“The health and safety of players, fans and everyone working on the events is always Asia Rugby’s highest priority,” Qais Al Dhalai, Asia Rugby’s president, said.

“This prudent decision has been taken in order to help protect the Asia Rugby community and the wider public.

“Our decision is based on the World Health Organisation and other relevant public authorities’ travel and health guidelines.”

After the first three rounds of the Six Nations, Ireland and England both have nine points, four behind leaders France. Italy are bottom of the standings without a win.