Major doubt has been cast on the France Ireland Six Nations match as French President Emmanuel Macron announced a ban on gatherings of more than 1,000 people in a bid to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
The news could spell the end of the Six Nations fixture set for Paris on March 14th. Last week the French government placed a ban on gatherings of over 5,000 people indoors, but the latest move doesn’t appear to be limited to indoor events.
Certain events that are “useful to the life of the country” may be exempt, although Health Minister Olivier Véran did not specify an event the size of France and Ireland’s match.
As of Sunday 1,126 people have been infected with the disease in France.
England’s final Six Nations match against Italy on March 14 have already been postponed.
Tournament organisers faced the option of playing the game behind closed doors at the Stadio Olimpico or delaying it until later in the year and have chosen the latter option. Italy’s away game against Ireland in Dublin – due to take place on March 7 – was already called off.
It is hoped the England women and under-20 teams will have their final weekend fixtures moved from their current location in northern Italy.
England prop Mako Vunipola was ruled out of Saturday’s game with Wales as he was understood to be in self-isolation as a precaution having flown back from Tonga via Hong Kong, but his club Saracens said he was available to play for them in the Gallagher Premiership the same weekend.
Scotland Women’s game with France in Glasgow on March 7 was postponed after a Scottish player tested positive for coronavirus.
additional reporting Press Association
WATCH: Wales coach Wayne Pivac and captain Alun Wyn Jones speak at a press conference following the team’s Guinness Six Nations match against England.
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now