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Ireland v Italy Six Nations games postponed over health concerns

Ireland’s men’s and women’s Six Nations games against Italy in Dublin on 7 and 8 March have been postponed because of coronavirus.

Irish Health Minister Simon Harris said on Tuesday the men’s game should be postponed and met with the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) on Wednesday.

Eleven towns in northern Italy are in lockdown after an outbreak.

An IRFU statement said it hoped to give an update on the rescheduling of matches “in the coming days”.

Ireland’s men were scheduled to face Italy at the Aviva Stadium on 7 March before the women’s game the following day at Energia Park.

The under-20s game between the countries on 6 March has also been postponed.

“At the outset we made it clear that the IRFU was supportive of the government’s need to protect public health in relation to the coronavirus,” said an IRFU 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.

“We will immediately begin to work with our Six Nations partners to look at the possibility of rescheduling the matches and would hope to have an update on this in the coming days.”

Ireland’s chief medical officer said on Wednesday that the decision to call for the cancellation of the match in Dublin was “not made lightly”.

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