THE UPCOMING match between Ireland and Italy in the next round of Six Nations will not go ahead, the IRFU have confirmed.
Minister for Health, Simon Harris, had previously expressed his concern at the idea of thousands of Italian fans attending the match, as Northern Italy has recently been struck with a number of cases of the virus which has left 12 people dead in the region.
"The chances of a coronavirus case in Ireland or indeed anywhere in the European Union outside of Italy has significantly increased,” Minister Harris said at the time, “but it’s really important and that we act in accordance with best health advice."
Mr Harris today met with the IRFU with regards to the health risks posed by the fixture, which was due to be played in Dublin, and it was decided that the match would be called off.
In a statement from Irish Rugby, a spokesperson confirmed the fixture would not be played and that they support the Government’s decision.
“At the outset we made it clear that the IRFU was supportive of the Governments’ need to protect public health in relation to the Coronavirus,” an IRFU spokesperson said in a statement.
Ireland's @SixNationsRugby matches v Italy are off.
We will immediately begin to work with our Six Nations partners to look at the possibility of rescheduling the matches and would hope to have an update on this in the coming days.https://t.co/80ByyvOd3E
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) February 26, 2020
“We were then advised, formally, that The National Public Health Emergency team has determined that the series of matches should not proceed, in the interests of Public Health.
“The IRFU is happy to comply with this instruction.”
The statement went on to say that the IRFU would be collaborating with their Six Nations partners to look at the possibility of rescheduling the matches, with an update expected within the next few days.
The Ireland Women’s match with Italy, as well as the men’s Under 20’s fixture, have also been called off.