Wales’ Guinness Six Nations match against Scotland in Cardiff on Saturday has been called off just four hours after the Welsh Rugby Union had issued a Friday morning statement insisting the match would be going ahead.
The latest statement issued by the WRU read: “The Welsh Rugby Union has maintained an open dialogue with, and continued to seek advice and direction from, the National Assembly for Wales and other stakeholders, including the Six Nations, on this fast-moving issue.
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“Whilst medical advice remains consistent, we have decided that it is in the best interests of supporters, players and staff to fall in line with recent measures taken across the UK and global sports industries.
“The WRU would like to thank all parties for their counsel on the subject and will make further announcements with respect to rescheduling the fixture in the coming days.
“Every effort has been made to stage this game and we appreciate that individuals will have been inconvenienced. Given the fluid and unprecedented nature of this issue, a postponement became the only viable option.”
Earlier on Friday, the WRU had insisted that the match was going ahead despite fears about the coronavirus outbreak forcing the postponement of sports fixtures around the world.
This weekend’s other round five matches – Italy vs England in Rome and France vs Ireland in Paris – had both been postponed, but rugby authorities in Wales remained intent at the time in pressing ahead with plans for its Principality Stadium fixture.
Its earlier statement read: “WRU representatives have been in dialogue with Vaughan Gething, the Welsh Assembly Government minister for Health and Social Services, who provided much-needed clarity on the Cobra meeting held on Thursday.
“Throughout the WRU board have followed the scientific advice of the government, Public Health Wales and medical experts and determined that any game would be held or postponed based on that advice.
“Enhanced facilities for hand washing and sanitisation will be available at the stadium and there are measures in place to manage any issues with attendees on the day. In addition, supporters are urged to follow the advice that is widely available on government websites in relation to the virus.”
The Scotland squad had arrived in Cardiff and trained at the Principality Stadium on Friday. A Scottish Rugby spokesperson said: “Scottish Rugby has acknowledged the decision of the WRU to postpone tomorrow’s Guinness Six Nations match in Cardiff.
“While it is disappointing the fixture could not go ahead, there are clearly wider public safety issues unfolding at this unprecedented time. We support the WRU in the difficult decision they have had to make and will continue to have a strong relationship with them going forward.
'It was an honour for me to play for Scotland, but it wasn’t how it should be, you could just tell.'
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 13, 2020
“All the Scotland players and management team would like to pass on their thanks to the Scotland fans who were aiming to attend the match and share their disappointment this game now will not be played. The team will aim to return to Scotland at the earliest opportunity.”
Had the game gone ahead, Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones would have equalled the world record held by New Zealand’s World Cup-winning skipper Richie McCaw of 148 Test match appearances. But that feat will now be put on hold probably until the summer when Wales play Tests against New Zealand in Auckland and Wellington.
The WRU, meanwhile, said that Friday night’s Six Nations U20 game between Wales and Scotland in Colwyn Bay will be played behind closed doors.
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