Simon Harris believes public health must trump all other considerations in regards to the Ireland vs Italy Six Nations match.
The Minister for Health was on Off The Ball and believed that the match must be postponed despite it coming as a disappointment to rugby fans.
“I know it will come as a source of massive disappointment to rugby fans and sports fans in general but it probably won’t come as a great surprise with the developments we’ve seen in Italy in the last number of days and indeed hours.
“We’ve now added northern Italy to the affected regions list for public health purposes.
“So therefore in all conscience, you couldn’t have a situation where you would be hosting a major rugby game in Dublin on the 7th of March, in effect encouraging people to travel.
“So sadly we’ve had to take the advice that the match will be postponed and obviously it’s a matter for the IRFU now to engage in that regard,” Harris said.
The IRFU are not yet obliged to take the advice of the government regarding the postponement of the match but Harris expects the rugby union to follow their advice.
“To be very honest I hope and don’t expect it to get into that space. In fairness to the IRFU I don’t sense any response or reaction like that from them.
“I’ve very much seen their public statements in recent days where they’ve talked about following government advice. Of course, everyone in relation to sports and sports fans will want to keep everybody safe.
“I expect the IRFU will follow government advice and indeed I’ve heard them say that publicly.
“These are not decisions that are taken lightly in any way. But public health does need to trump every other consideration,” Harris commented.
An alternate date for the match has not yet been given.