The Six Nations meeting of France and Ireland, scheduled for Saturday March 14, has been postponed on the orders of the French government.

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French Rugby Federation officials met with government officials at the French sports ministry this morning to discuss the fate of the France v Ireland game, which was due to be played at the Stade de France this coming Saturday, amid the growing number of coronavirus cases across Europe.

In France, 19 deaths and 1,126 cases of Covid-19 have been recorded as of Sunday evening.

The meeting came on the back of Sunday’s decision by French President Emmanuel Macron to place a ban on gatherings of more than 1,000 people in a bid to fight the spread of the coronavirus. Macron’s announcement followed last week’s decision by the French government to place a ban on indoor gatherings of over 5,000 people.

French health minister Olivier Véran had stated that events which are viewed as being “useful to the life of the country” would be exempt from that ban, but did not clarify if that included major sporting fixtures.

Yet a number of sporting events have now been either postponed or restricted in France.

Earlier on Monday, it was confirmed that Paris Saint-Germain’s Champions League against Borussia Dortmund would be played behind closed doors at the Parc de Princes on Wednesday.

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That news was shortly followed by confirmation that the France v Ireland Six Nations game will not be played this weekend.

Some French media outlets had reported that Saturday’s Wales v Scotland game in Cardiff was also set to be postponed, but the Six Nations have confirmed the game will go ahead as planned.

“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,” a Six Nations statement read.

“The Wales v Scotland Guinness Six Nations and U20s Six Nations matches will be going ahead as scheduled.

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“The fixture between Wales Women and Scotland Women is also postponed after a Scottish player tested positive for Covid-19 and a further seven members of the Scotland camp (players and management) are self-isolating.

“Six Nations and its constituent Unions and federations will work closely to identify dates on which all postponed matches will take place. No immediate announcement will be made on rescheduling as we will need to discuss with all relevant stakeholders and assess the evolution of the situation.”

The postponements have left Six Nations organisers facing some difficult decisions in terms of completing the tournament.

Ireland’s home against Italy, set for Dublin last weekend, and England’s final round trip to face the Azzurri, were already postponed in a bit to halt the spread of coronavirus.

While there has been no confirmation on when the postponed games will be played, it is believed that most likely scenario is to hold the final round of games in late October. Ireland’s home match against Italy would also need to be completed before the refixed final round.

The number of coronavirus cases in the UK has risen to 74, while there are 33 confirmed cases on the island of Ireland.

In Italy, the worst-affected European country, 7,375 people have so far been confirmed to have contracted the virus, with an exclusion zone in the north of the country enforced on Monday.

Watch: Eddie Jones to discuss England future with RFU.

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