Six Nations are looking at a Halloween ‘Super Saturday’ finale to finally bring to a close the 2020 Guinness championship that has been affected by three coronavirus-enforced postponements.
Next Saturday’s France-Ireland match scheduled for Paris was the latest fixture to fall victim to the worsening health situation in Europe, following the earlier postponements of the Ireland-Italy and Italy-England matches that were fixed for Dublin and Rome respectively.
It means that for the first time since 2001, when the foot-and-mouth outbreak also postponed three matches and led to a delayed autumnal climax, the championship won’t be decided as per usual in mid-March.
Wales-Scotland in Cardiff is the only scheduled round five match still going ahead next Saturday, leaving organisers with much planning to sort out to ensure the tournament is eventually completed.
With the usual diet of autumn internationals set to commence on the weekend of November 7/8 with France hosting Georgia, Ireland facing Australia, England taking on the All Blacks and Italy hosting South Africa, Six Nations officials are reportedly looking at holding the two postponed round five matches – France-Ireland and Italy-England on October 31 – with the postponed Ireland-Italy game taking place the weekend before that.
A complication with this potential solution to the series of postponements would be the player release rules currently governing the English Premiership.
While there is nothing preventing England using whatever Premiership players they like, the rescheduled rounds four and five fixtures for Italy would fall outside of the normal World Rugby player release window.
Ireland currently lie in fourth spot on the table on nine points, one behind third-place Scotland and four behind the top two of England and France. However, a pair of bonus-point wins would clinch the title for the Irish in Andy Farrell’s first year in charge.
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