Six Nations 'fully intends' to complete championship as Italy v England postponed
Meanwhile, Munster and Connacht have seen Pro14 visits to Italy postponed.

THE SIX NATIONS has underlined that it “fully intends” to see the 2020 championship completed as the tournament organisers confirmed that the Italy v England clash scheduled for 14 March in Rome has been postponed.

The postponement follows a decree from the Italian government yesterday that supporters will not be permitted to attend any sporting events in the country until at least 3 April due to concerns over spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.

The Italy v England fixture could have been played behind closed doors but that was never a likely scenario given the loss of earnings the Federazione Italiana Rugby would have suffered.

a-general-view-of-stadio-olimpico-ahead-of-the-game Tommy Dickson / INPHO Stadio Olimpico won't be hosting Italy v England in two weekends' time. Tommy Dickson / INPHO / INPHO

The game has instead been postponed, but the Six Nations has not yet confirmed any date for the rescheduled fixture.

The women’s and U20s Six Nations fixtures between Italy and England due to take place on the same weekend of 13/14/15 March have also been postponed.

England’s visit to Italy is the second fixture of this year’s men’s Six Nations that has been postponed due to concerns over the coronavirus.

Italy’s visit to Ireland, which was originally scheduled for Saturday 7 March was postponed due to Irish government fears about the spread of the coronavirus.

There are now major worries that Ireland’s visit to Paris to take on France on 14 March is in danger, although the Six Nations said today that “all other Six Nations matches are set to go ahead as scheduled” based on current information.

The reality, as acknowledged in the Six Nations statement, is that national governments are the decision-makers in the current circumstances.

Importantly, the Six Nations stressed that it intends to see all 15 games of the 2020 championship completed in full “when time allows.”

There is no certainty on when the two postponed fixtures – with more to come, potentially – will be played, as the Six Nations stressed that it “will refrain from making any rescheduling announcements while we keep assessing the situation.”

“Six Nations will continue to monitor developments with our unions and their respective governments and health authorities,”  continues the official statement.

“We remain 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.”

Meanwhile, there have been fresh postponements in the Guinness Pro14, with Munster’s Round 14 visit to Benetton on 21 March and Connacht’s Round 15 trip to Zebre on 28 March postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak in Italy.

As none of these four clubs are set to be involved in the Champions Cup or Challenge Cup knock-out stages, the Pro14 will aim to reschedule these two matches on dates during the European weekends in April and May.

The postponement of Munster’s visit to Benetton means their next scheduled game isn’t until 27 March, when the same Italian club is due to visit Cork.

The Pro14 says discussions are still ongoing regarding the rescheduling of the postponed Round 13 fixtures – Zebre Rugby Club v Ospreys and Benetton Rugby v Ulster Rugby.

Bernard Jackman joins Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey to discuss why the Six Nations’ potential move behind a subscription-TV paywall is a “horrendous” idea, and the problems faced by Ireland and other countries in retaining players beyond the U20s age grade

The42 Rugby Weekly / SoundCloud

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