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Coronavirus leaves Six Nations fixtures in the balance; meetings in Paris today

Organisers of the tournament will meet today to draw up a crisis plan.

The Ireland team huddle during their game against Wales.
The Ireland team huddle during their game against Wales.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

THE SIX NATIONS committee meet in Paris today to address the fixture chaos caused by the Coronavirus and the probability of further postponements occurring.

Already one match – Ireland’s date with Italy – has been postponed. A second game, France versus Ireland, is also in doubt after French authorities issued a statement on Saturday saying that mass gatherings of more than 5,000 people will have to be stopped.

However, it was the statement Matt Hancock, the British health secretary, made to the BBC yesterday that has caused the biggest threat to the tournament, given how three of the six participating nations fall under his jurisdiction.

Hancock said sporting events could be cancelled – as well as suggesting other drastic measures such as closing schools and forcing employees to work from home. The Chinese government’s policy of shutting down cities has also been discussed at cabinet level. If that was to occur, you can forget about any meaningful professional sport being played in the UK in the next month or so.

Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister – according to a report in today’s London Times will tell an emergency meeting today that the UK are drawing up a “battle plan lays out in detail the measures we could use — if and when they are needed”.

In this respect, the completion of six more international rugby matches inside the scheduled dates seems at best hopeful. So the Rome meeting between England and Italy not only seems certain to be postponed but that call could be made as soon as today, when the Six Nations committee have their meeting in Paris.

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However, the Six Nations committee have made it clear they want all of the remaining six matches to be played at some point. October seems the likeliest month to fit them in.

About the author:

Garry Doyle

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