Coronavirus: Six Nations under threat as Ireland and England express concerns over Italy games

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The final weekend of the Six Nations could be heavily impacted by the deadly outbreak of coronavirus with England’s potentially championship-deciding trip to Italy at threat of being moved or postponed.

Seven people have died and more than 220 have been infected in Italy as coronavirus continues to sweep across the continent, having initially spread from China where it has left more than 2,500 dead from 77,000 confirmed cases.

Sport events have been heavily impacted by the outbreak, with the Chinese Grand Prix and Chinese Super League both postponed until further notice and several other major competitions either move, delayed or cancelled.

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The crisis has now struck Italy’s northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto, with sport in the area put on lockdown as a result.

Italy are due to travel to Ireland next weekend for their penultimate Six Nations match in Dublin, before returning home for the visit of England on Saturday 14 March. However, both games are now under threat due to the growing number of cases in the country, with the British government updating their travel advice for anyone returning from northern Italy to self-quarantine even if they do not have any symptoms in order to control the spread of the virus.

A Six Nations spokesman confirmed: “Six Nations is monitoring this situation closely and is in contact with the FIR (Italian rugby federation) and all other unions, as well as relevant local authorities and health organisations.”

Talks that have already taken place between the unions included discussing the prospect of moving the match from Rome to London, although the Stadio Olimpico is located below the cut-off point in Italy for self-isolation which comes across Pisa, Florence and Rimini.

But there are still fears about the spread of the virus, particularly with the Italian squad and supporters due to travel to Dublin next week.

“The rugby game is something that needs considerable consideration. This situation is evolving,” said Ireland’s minister for health Simon Harris.

“The weekend’s activities have shown there’s still an awful lot unknown about the coronavirus and about the path it might take. There will be some big decisions in the coming days. Most particularly, I’m thinking of the Ireland-Italy game.”


Ratings: England vs Ireland





1/31 England vs Ireland

2/31 England: Elliot Daly – 8

3/31 Jonny May – 6

4/31 Manu Tuilagi – 7

5/31 Owen Farrell – 8

6/31 Jonathan Joseph – 7

7/31 George Ford – 8

8/31 Ben Youngs – 7

9/31 Joe Marler – 8

10/31 Jamie George – 7

11/31 Kyle Sinckler – 7

12/31 Maro Itoje – 8

13/31 George Kruis – 7

14/31 Courtney Lawes – 7

15/31 Sam Underhill – 7

16/31 Tom Curry – 7

17/31 Ireland: Jordan Larmour – 5

18/31 Andrew Conway – 6

19/31 Robbie Henshaw – 7

20/31 Bundee Aki – 7

21/31 Jacob Stockdale – 5

22/31 Johnny Sexton – 4

23/31 Conor Murray – 5

24/31 Cian Healy – 5

25/31 Rob Herring – 6

26/31 Tadhg Furlong – 5

27/31 Devin Toner – 5

28/31 James Ryan – 6

29/31 Peter O’Mahony – 5

30/31 Josh van der Flier – 5

31/31 CJ Stander – 6

1/31 England vs Ireland

2/31 England: Elliot Daly – 8

3/31 Jonny May – 6

4/31 Manu Tuilagi – 7

5/31 Owen Farrell – 8

6/31 Jonathan Joseph – 7

7/31 George Ford – 8

8/31 Ben Youngs – 7

9/31 Joe Marler – 8

10/31 Jamie George – 7

11/31 Kyle Sinckler – 7

12/31 Maro Itoje – 8

13/31 George Kruis – 7

14/31 Courtney Lawes – 7

15/31 Sam Underhill – 7

16/31 Tom Curry – 7

17/31 Ireland: Jordan Larmour – 5

18/31 Andrew Conway – 6

19/31 Robbie Henshaw – 7

20/31 Bundee Aki – 7

21/31 Jacob Stockdale – 5

22/31 Johnny Sexton – 4

23/31 Conor Murray – 5

24/31 Cian Healy – 5

25/31 Rob Herring – 6

26/31 Tadhg Furlong – 5

27/31 Devin Toner – 5

28/31 James Ryan – 6

29/31 Peter O’Mahony – 5

30/31 Josh van der Flier – 5

31/31 CJ Stander – 6

Meanwhile Italy’s top-flight football matches have been given the green light to go ahead behind closed doors after the government agreed to a request from the country’s football federation (FIGC).

Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora said that sporting events had been banned in the affected regions until Sunday but that “for some events we have given the possibility to play them behind closed doors.”

These would include the game between Serie A leaders Juventus and third-placed Inter Milan in Turin on Sunday.

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