The Department of Health and the National Public Health Emergency Team have made a recommendation to the IRFU that next weekend’s Six Nations clash between Ireland and Italy at the Aviva Stadium should not go ahead amid fears of the coronavirus outbreak in Europe.
The coronavirus, which originated in the Wuhan region of China, has spread to Europe and especially Italy where 283 cases of the virus have been detected which has led to the deaths of seven people.
Last weekend, the women’s Six Nations clash between Italy and Scotland was cancelled in addition to two Guinness PRO14 clashes which are due to take place this weekend; Zebre v Ospreys and Benetton v Ulster.
“We will be publishing guidelines in relation to mass gatherings shortly but we’ve obviously taken a decision in relation to the Ireland-Italy rugby game which is due to be held in Dublin on the 7th of March,” Minister for Health Simon Harris told RTÉ News.
“The very clear view of the public health emergency team is that this game should not go ahead, that it would constitute a significant risk because a very large number of people would be travelling from what is now an infected region.
Minister for Health Simon Harris has said the Ireland v Italy Six Nations game scheduled for Dublin next month should not go ahead due to the coronavirus outbreak in northern Italy pic.twitter.com/ibpgpI9RlQ
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) February 25, 2020
“My department will be contacting the IRFU in relation to this. I know it will cause great disappointment to many but it is important that we make decisions in relation to public health above and beyond all other considerations.”
Ireland’s campaign thus far has yielded two wins and one loss with that sole defeat coming at the hands of England at Twickenham on Sunday.
Andy Farrell was expected to rotate his squad for the Round 4 clash with Italy before Ireland travel to Paris to face France on the final day of the championship.
Pundit Arena has contacted the IRFU for comment.
More to follow…