Ireland rugby team's Six Nations home fixture against Italy postponed due to fear of coronavirus spread

The Associated Press

London: Ireland's Six Nations rugby match against Italy in Dublin was postponed Wednesday because of concerns about the spreading virus in Europe.

The Italians were scheduled to play at Ireland on 7 March, part of annual rugby competition that also includes England, France, Scotland and Wales. A women's game the following day was also postponed.

The decision to postpone the matches came from Irish Health Minister Simon Harris, who met with rugby officials on Wednesday.

"At the outset we made it clear that the IRFU was supportive of the governments' need to protect public health in relation to the coronavirus," the Irish Rugby Football Union said in a statement.

"We were then advised, formally, that the National Public Health Emergency team has determined that the series of matches should not proceed, in the interests of Public Health. The IRFU is happy to comply with this instruction."

Rugby officials plan talks about when the matches can be rescheduled.

Italy has the highest number of cases of the virus in Europe, with more than 300 people diagnosed with infection and 11 deaths linked to the disease.

"I know (it will) cause a great disappointment to many, but it is important to make decisions in relation to public health above and beyond all other considerations,'' Harris told RTE before the decision to postpone was made.

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