Friday night’s Dragons vs Benetton Rugby Guinness PRO14 fixture will go ahead as scheduled in Newport despite the coronavirus outbreak causing an Italian rugby shutdown.
Four league matches scheduled to take place in Italy have been called off by the tournament organisers, as have the Azzurri’s remaining two matches in the Guinness Six Nations. However, the PRO14 have given the green light for the Dragons to host Benetton at Rodney Parade in Wales.
In a Friday morning statement, the organisers explained: “Protecting the well-being of participating clubs’ players, other staff and supporters is an absolute priority for PRO14 Rugby which has been carefully monitoring the situation in relation to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.
“It is satisfied that allowing the fixture to proceed this evening as scheduled is consistent with the very latest guidance from the UK government and specific recommendations received from Public Health Wales. There is currently no direction from the UK government that prohibits travel from Italy in relation to the outbreak.
“However, in keeping with the UK government guidance and on the advice of Public Health Wales, relayed to via the Welsh Rugby Union (current arrangement with all participating unions), PRO14 Rugby has requested and received written assurances from Benetton Rugby that (among other things) nobody in their travelling party has presented any symptoms associated with the virus, knowingly been in contact with any person with the virus and/or lived in or travelled to any of the so-called ‘lockdown’ areas in northern Italy since February 19.
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“Benetton Rugby have been also instructed to, and have, actively discouraged its supporters from travelling to this fixture. PRO14 Rugby has taken these actions in order to protect the well-being of our participating clubs’ players, other staff and supporters.”
Tournament director David Jordan added: “We want to reassure our participating clubs, their players and other staff and supporters that their well-being is of paramount importance to us and we are satisfied that proceeding with this fixture is entirely consistent with the most up-to-date advice available from the relevant public health authorities.”
Although games in Italy (involving Irish teams) have been postponed, this is due to restrictions imposed by the Italian government and the direction of the Irish government regarding unnecessary travel to northern Italy.
WATCH: RugbyPass goes behind the scenes at the Dragons
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