Ireland’s Six Nations fixture against Italy in Dublin has been postponed until further notice due to the coronavirus outbreak in northern Italy, the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) has announced.
The match at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin — originally scheduled for March 7 — has been postponed, and the IRFU has said an announcement over further arrangements will be made in the next few days.
The women’s fixture, to be played at Energia Park on March 8, has also been postponed, as well as the men’s U20 fixture on March 6.
The Irish rugby union said in a statement: “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 vs. 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.”
A number of sporting events in Italy have been called off in the past week due to the coronavirus, including fixtures in Italian football’s Serie A and Serie B, as the country stands as the worst-hit region by the virus in Europe, with more than 280 cases having been diagnosed.
Ireland’s Department of Health had recommended that the Six Nations fixtures are postponed due to the rapidly evolving nature of the outbreak in northern Italy, and on the consequent risk of importation of cases into Ireland.
Sources have told ESPN that England’s Rugby Football Union (RFU) are continuing to monitor the situation in Italy where their teams are scheduled to play their final Six Nations games of the campaign.
The women’s fixture is in the most doubt with it due to be held on March 15 in Padua, which is nearby to the quarantined town of Veneto.
England’s men side are scheduled to play their final match of the Championship in Rome on March 14, while the U20 side will play a day later in Verona.