Ireland’s Six Nations clash with Italy in Dublin has been officially called off due to fears over the Coronavirus.
The deadly epidemic has swept through northern parts of Italy, and in a bid to prevent the disease reaching their shores, the Irish government have taken the step to postpone the game on March 7.
It leaves this season’s competition in chaos, with no date set for when the game will take place.
Tony Holohan said it was “the only responsible decision that could have been made”.
Ireland Italy match cancelled pic.twitter.com/0TrKcPNDJ5— Kevin O’Mahony (@Kev_OMahony) February 26, 2020
Speaking in a media briefing at the Department of Health, he added: “What was of concern to us was the nature of the mass gathering, a large group of people coming together from an affected area where we don’t believe we fully understand the community transmission pattern in that area.
“We think there may be many more cases there that have yet to be identified. We don’t think any other responsible decision could have been made.”
Chairman of World Rugby Bill Beaumont told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think what we have to do is listen to all the experts. We have to err on the side of caution when people’s lives are at risk.”
Asked how a postponement would affect the climax to this year’s Six Nations, Beaumont pointed to the 2001 tournament which saw games delayed until September and October because of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the UK.
TEAM VOTED THE ALL-TIME SIX NATIONS XV
With the 2020 Six Nations in full swing, we wanted to know what you think the best-ever combined XV.
And after 30,000 votes, here is the team fans selected. There are one or two surprise inclusions.
Fullback: JASON ROBINSON (England) – 10,758 votes
Winger: SHANE WILLIAMS (Wales) – 12,374
Centre: Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland) – 21,392
Centre: Will Greenwood (England) – 10,697
Greenwood followed his father Dick into an England shirt. While his father was a prickly back row player, the younger Greenwood was one of the finest centres to grace the England midfield.