Ireland v Italy postponed over Coronavirus fears

Ireland’s Six Nations match against Italy in Dublin on March 7 has been postponed amid concerns over the coronavirus.

The Under-20 match between Ireland and Italy on March 6 and the game between Ireland Women and Italy Women on March 8 have also been called off.

The IRFU confirmed the news after a meeting between their chief executive Phillip Browne and health minister Simon Harris on Wednesday.

The governing body then said in a statement: “At the outset we made it clear that the IRFU was supportive of the government’s 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.”

Six Nations tournament organisers said on Wednesday they planned to hold talks with all six unions about the rescheduling options for the affected games.

A statement read: “We are fully supportive of any preventative measures taken in the interests of overall Public Health in relation to the Coronavirus and we will respect instructions provided by Government authorities and health organisations. Six Nations also continues to liaise with its medical advisory group.

“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.”

On Tuesday, Harris voiced worries over the Italy team and supporters travelling to Ireland for the fixture at the Aviva Stadium on March 7, due to the spread of coronavirus across parts of northern Italy and the south.

He said that his department believed the game should not go ahead, saying: “The government are here to lead the country in relation to public health decisions. I think it’s somewhat unfair to be asking the IRFU to make decisions like this.”

Eleven people have died in Italy due to the virus, while the number of confirmed cases in the country has risen to 322.

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