Clive Woodward has called for the cancellation of the entire Six Nations amid fears around the spread of the coronavirus.
Woodward maintains that the spread of the disease is more important than the tournaments remaining games and that there is a far ‘bigger picture’ to take into consideration.
Italy’s Guinness Six Nations match versus England on March 14 will have to be played behind closed doors at Stadio Olimpico in Rome or be postponed to a later date. It follows the publication of a new Italian government decree that has ordered all sporting events to take place without fans until April 3 due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“If it’s dangerous for a sprinkling of Italian supporters — say a couple of thousand — to travel to Ireland, how much more of a health risk is it for 15,000 England fans to trek to Italy, many of them making a long weekend of it and travelling outside of Rome?”
Woodward had planned on travelling to the game with his family but cancelled those plans the situation got worse in Italy.
“I was still prepared to travel alone — a rapid in and out — with the ITV commentary team and technicians, but on Wednesday they took the sensible decision to cover the match ‘off the tube’ — if it goes ahead — from their studios in London.
“When they, with all their experience, make that call it seems to me the game really is up.”
“As for the 2020 Six Nations, I would suggest this will be the final weekend. I don’t see how any of the games next weekend can, in good faith, be allowed to take place.
“If that’s the case the temptation will be to try to re-arrange — and France will definitely want that if they are still in contention for the Grand Slam — but I would be inclined to call time on this year’s tournament and concentrate our energies on far more important matters.”
Six Nations officials had declared on Monday that all remaining matches in the championship were going ahead as planned except for the already postponed meeting of Ireland versus Italy in Dublin which had been fixed for next Saturday in Dublin.
However, with the threat of the coronavirus spread still not under control, the Azzurri’s round five clash with the English in Rome is now set to be played without a crowd allowed watch at Stadio Olimpico – or be postponed to a later date by tournament officials.
The decree allows for “the suspension of events of any nature… that entails the concentration of people and do not allow for a safe distance of at least one metre (yard) to be respected.”
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