The IRFU have issued a statement following news that the Irish government said it was their position that the Ireland Italy Six Nations match on March 7th ‘should not go ahead’ amid fears about the spread of COVID19.

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Irish Minister for Health Simon Harris gave an interview with the national broadcaster that has in effect kiboshed the fixture on March 7th, saying it would pose a significant risk because of the number of fans that would be travelling from Italy.

There have been 11 deaths in Northern Italy as a result of the respiratory virus.

“We’ve taken a decision in relation to the Ireland-Italy rugby game which was due to be held in Dublin on 7 March,” the minister 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 affected region.

“My department will be contacting the IRFU in relation to this.

“I know it will come as a great disappointment to many but it is important we make decisions in relation to public health above and beyond all other considerations.”

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The IRFU statement reads:

“The IRFU is seeking an urgent meeting with Minister Harris as to the specific reasoning behind calling for the cancellation of the Ireland v Italy Six Nations fixture in the context of the Government’s overall travel policy to and from Italy and other affected countries.

“Until such time as the IRFU has had contact with the Minister and gets an understanding of the government’s strategic policy on travel to and from Ireland and the cancellation of mass gatherings, it is not in a position to comment further.”

WATCH: Ireland coach Andy Farrell and captain Johnny Sexton speak to media following their team’s disappointing Six Nations loss to England at Twickenham.

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