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Dublin: 16 °C Friday 14 August, 2020
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Ireland's visit to Paris in major doubt as France bans gatherings of more than 1,000

The French rugby federation says ‘there is no official information’ to confirm the game will be postponed.

THE FRENCH RUGBY Federation [FFR] says that France’s Six Nations clash with Ireland in Paris next weekend is set to go ahead as things stand.

However, there are major doubts about the fixture being played at Stade de France on Saturday after the French government issued a ban on gatherings of more than 1,000 people.

The FFR made a brief statement this evening following earlier news that the French government has decided to stop mass gatherings as they attempt to limit the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

a-view-of-the-stade-de-france-as-the-teams-stand-for-the-national-anthems Stade de France in Paris. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

French health minister Olivier Véran said this evening that certain events that are “useful to the life of the country” will be exempt from that ban without specifying whether that will include major sporting fixtures.

There have been postponements of some sporting events in France already, including Paris Saint-Germain’s Ligue 1 clash away to Strasbourg yesterday.

France’s women’s rugby team were due to play Scotland in Glasgow this weekend but the game was postponed after a Scottish player tested positive for the coronavirus.

The French government had previously issued a ban on gatherings of more than 5,000 people in enclosed venues such as indoor sports stadiums.

The FFR decided to make a brief statement this evening in the wake of the French government’s announcement, with the rugby federation suggesting that it has not been directed to postpone the clash with Ireland.

“At the time of writing, there is no official information to confirm that the France-Ireland match has been postponed,” reads the FFR statement. 

“All FFR teams are involved to ensure that the Stade de France is ready to welcome the fans expected for next Saturday’s match under maximum health security conditions.”

It remains to be seen if the French government do issue a directive to the FFR for the game to be postponed.

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Stade de France has a capacity in excess of 80,000, meaning next weekend’s game would involved a huge public gathering of people in the French capital.

The Six Nations has said it will not be making a statement this evening but tournament organisers may do so tomorrow as the situation becomes clearer.

The spread of the coronavirus has already claimed two men’s Six Nations games, with Italy’s visit to Dublin and England’s trip to Rome to face the Italians both postponed.

Two Six Nations games did go ahead this weekend, with results leaving Ireland firmly in the mix for the title.

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Murray Kinsella

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