Ireland Women won't be able to finish off their Six Nations campaign. Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Ireland Women see Six Nations game cancelled, World Cup qualifier postponed

The game against France has now been cancelled but the Qualifiers are set to take place next year.

IRELAND WOMEN’S FINAL 2020 Six Nations fixture against France has been cancelled as tournament organisers confirmed that completion of the championship is “impossible”.

Meanwhile, Ireland’s World Cup European Qualifying competition – originally scheduled for next month – has been postponed.

It is hoped that the Qualifier will instead take place at some point in early 2021 but there has been no confirmation of new dates at this stage.

The cancellation of the France game and postponement of the Qualifier mean Adam Griggs’ side are facing into an uncertain time.

The IRFU said it will now “look at the performance opportunities available to his women’s team” in the wake of this news.

Ireland had been due to play France two weekends ago in their closing Six Nations fixture. Initially planned to take place in Lille, the fixture had been switched to Dublin due to travel restrictions for the Irish players, who are amateurs.

The game was then postponed due to Covid-19 cases in the French squad and now the Six Nations has confirmed that the game – along with Italy v Scotland and Wales v Scotland – has been cancelled.

“Recent Government and Health Authority restrictions affecting squad preparations, travel, and the inability to stage matches due to the sport’s amateur status have made the successful completion of the 2020 championship impossible,” reads a statement from the Six Nations.

The Six Nations table for this year will be recorded as it stands, with Ireland in third place after wins over Scotland, Wales and Italy, as well as a defeat to Grand Slam winners England.

Ireland would have hoped to ramp up their preparations for the 2021 World Cup European Qualifying competition next month, but that has now been postponed.

Initially scheduled for match days on 5, 12 and 19 December, that competition will see Ireland face Italy, Scotland and the winner of the postponed Rugby Europe Women’s Championship.

The winner of the European qualifying competition will secure a place at next year’s World Cup in New Zealand, while the runner-up will move on to the Final Qualification Tournament to be held in 2021.

However, the postponement of this year’s Rugby Europe Women’s Championship – which Spain are the strong favourites to win – has now had a knock-on effect for the European Qualifier.

“With the Covid-19 situation in Europe presenting continued travel and quarantine challenges for some teams, the decision was made to postpone and identify an optimal opportunity for the tournament to be rescheduled in early 2021,” said World Rugby and Rugby Europe in a joint statement.

It all leaves Ireland in an uncertain position but they are vowing to make the best of the situation.

“Covid-19 has been disruptive for so many people and from the start of the pandemic we set out to be flexible and dynamic in our response to ever-changing circumstances,” said Anthony Eddy, the IRFU’s director of women’s rugby.

“The squad has been positive through all of this and will continue to work hard to improve. We have been focusing on the Qualifiers for well over a year now and that will not change. 

“The group achieved three home Six Nations wins in 2020 which is an excellent outcome, and this additional time will allow more preparation in qualifying for the 2021 World Cup.

“The squad has a busy schedule and our plan will slightly change – they will regroup and competition for spots will intensify as we all focus on preparation for 2021.” 

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