Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 3 April 2020

Coronavirus: France's Six Nations match against Ireland in Paris postponed

Match between Italy and England in Rome was postponed last week

France's players react following their Six Nations defeat to Scotland at Murrayfield. AFP
France's players react following their Six Nations defeat to Scotland at Murrayfield. AFP

Saturday's Six Nations rugby match between France and Ireland in Paris has been postponed due to the coronavirus, tournament organisers have announced.

The game was due to be played in Paris on Saturday, but will now not go ahead on the advice of the French government.

England lead the table on points difference from France, who failed in their Grand Slam bid with defeat by Scotland on Sunday.

As it stands, the Wales v Scotland match is the only game in the final round of the Six Nations due to go ahead as originally scheduled, after the Italy v England game in Rome was postponed last week.

A statement from Six Nations Rugby read: "Following instructions received from the authorities in France, the decision has been made to postpone the Round 5 Guinness Six Nations match between France and Ireland. We are still awaiting confirmation for the Women's and U20s fixtures."

The Women's Six Nations fixture between Wales and Scotland has been postponed after a Scottish player tested positive for the virus. A further seven members of the Scotland camp - players and management - are self-isolating.

French sports minister Roxana Maracineanu announced the decision to postpone France's final fixture after an "agreement with the French Rugby Federation and tournament organisers".

There were reports on Monday lunchtime that the French sports ministry had decided matches in France's top-flight football competition, Ligue 1, should be played behind closed doors or in front of no more than 1,000 spectators as a measure to limit the spread of the virus.

Sports governing bodies in the United Kingdom attended a meeting with broadcasters and government officials on Monday to discuss contingency plans in the event that advice around coronavirus changes in the coming days or weeks.

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Sporting fixtures across the world played out to empty arenas

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Rugby Football Union chief executive Bill Sweeney said there was "no medical rationale" as things stood to postpone sporting fixtures within the UK, or to play them behind closed doors.

"The basic message coming out of today is let's not panic, let's monitor the situation and carry on as normal," he said.

"It was a very good meeting. The start of dialogue together. There was no medical rationale for cancelling events or behind closed doors yet, but clearly it is a moving situation so we'll keep talking and go from there."

Steve Elworthy, the director of special projects at the England and Wales Cricket Board also attended the meeting, and said as he left: "It was a fantastic meeting and this is the start of it.

"We are starting to think about contingency planning and it was a great meeting with all the sports around. We obviously can't get into any of [the detail] and don't want to because it is still business as usual in our world."

Updated: March 9, 2020 07:28 PM

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