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Dublin: 11°C Saturday 17 April 2021

Ireland still waiting for clarity on Italy game rescheduling with October a possibility

Andy Farrell’s squad will train next week even without a game to play.

IRELAND BOSS ANDY Farrell says they have no certainty around when their postponed Six Nations clash with Italy will be rescheduled for.

The clash had been due to take place in Dublin on Saturday 7 March but was postponed due to concerns about the spread of the Coronavirus [Covid-19].

While the IRFU, Italian rugby federation and the Six Nations have been in talks about a possible new date for the game, nothing has been confirmed yet.

johnny-sexton-and-andrew-conway Johnny Sexton and Andrew Conway at Ireland training today. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

It seems unlikely to take place in the coming months, with the possible date on 27 June, in between the Pro14 final and Ireland’s tour of Australia, possibly ruled out due to Euro 2020.

Playing the game in July, beyond the end of the current season as scheduled, is also thought to be a non-runner at this stage, while September would potentially be too early for players coming towards the latter stages of their pre-season.

As such, it may be that the Italy game isn’t played until October.

“There’s a few dates being bounced about but they’re just ideas at this point in time, so we haven’t got a clue really,” said Farrell. “There’s a lot of ifs, buts and maybes, so as far as we’re concerned we’ll do what we’re told. We obviously want to play the game.”

As things stand, Ireland’s next game is due to be against France in Paris on Saturday 14 March, although there are fears about that fixture being postponed too.

“We don’t know, that’s the answer, we don’t know,” said Farrell. “All we can do is prepare properly that the game is going ahead.”

Farrell’s Ireland have spent the past two days in a training camp that concluded this afternoon with an open training session against the Ireland U20s.

They will regather on Sunday evening, training again on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday of next week before taking the opportunity for a long rest weekend instead of facing Italy.

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andy-farrell Ireland boss Andy Farrell speaks to his players. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Ireland captain Johnny Sexton indicated that he and his team-mates would have preferred to play the Italy game behind closed doors rather than for it to be postponed, but underlined that the squad will move forward focusing on the France clash.

It will mean a three-week wait for the Irish players to finally get a chance to rid themselves of the disappointment of losing to England in Twickenham last time out.

“We just have to get over it,” said Sexton. “It’s a decision that has been taken out of the players’ hands. We’d play it behind closed doors if we could but that’s not an option and we’re just going with the plan now. We’ll try and get ready for France.

“As players, when you play bad you want to just go and play straight away. I was tempted to try and go play for Leinster tomorrow night.

“There’s nothing worse than a long wait now, but that’s what it is. We’ve just got to prepare. We trained hard today and we’ve got another big week next week. We can get a lot fixed over the couple of weeks, so we’ve got to look at the positives that we’ve got time to develop some things together now.”

Farrell said Ireland need to maintain their concentration on improving as a team next week, even without a fixture waiting at the end of it.

“Obviously there’s a bit of uncertainty of what may happen because of what you read about it, etc. and what’s going on in the world but we’ve got to make sure that we do the right thing as a game,” said Farrell.

“We definitely will do that but as far as distraction is concerned, we’re training, we’re rugby players coming to work, so we try and get better.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed but it’s the right decision, isn’t it? There’s more important things than a game of rugby, isn’t there?”

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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