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IRFU seek urgent meeting with Minister for Health over Italy game cancellation

Richie McCormack
Richie McCormack

18:40 25 Feb 2020

The IRFU is seeking an urgent meeting with Minister for Health Simon Harris after his department recommended Ireland's Six Nations meeting with Italy be postponed. 

The Department's recommendation was down to fears over the spread of the (Covoid-19).

 

Speaking earlier this evening, Minister Harris said, "The National Public Health Emergency team today was very strongly of the view that the Ireland versus Italy rugby match would be very high-risk event considering you'd effectively be seeing a very large number of people traveling from what is now an affected region.

"And considering that the game would be due to take place within one incubation cycle...on the basis of public health having to trump all else, the very clear view is that the game should not go ahead."

The IRFU were to be contacted about the matter.

However, they appear to have been blindsided by the Department of Health's recommendation.

In a statement to Off The Ball, the IRFU wrote:

"The IRFU is seeking an urgent meeting with Minister Harris as to the specific reasoning behind calling for the cancellation of the Ireland v Italy Six Nations fixture in the context of the Government's overall travel policy to and from Italy and other affected countries. 

Until such time as the IRFU has had contact with the Minister and gets an understanding of the government's strategic policy on travel to and from Ireland and the cancellation of mass gatherings, it is not in a position to comment further."

Earlier on Tuesday, Six Nations organisers said they're closely monitorining Italy's coronavirus outbreak following concerns over how it may affect the tournament.

Italy are due to face England in Rome the week after their trip to Dublin.

The Department of Health's chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan says Ireland remains in a "containment phase":

"Based on European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) guidelines, the cancellation of mass gatherings in this phase is justified in exceptional circumstances, and today’s recommendation to cancel the Ireland v Italy rugby match is based on the rapidly evolving nature of the outbreak in northern Italy, and the consequent risk of importation of cases into Ireland were the match to go ahead."

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Coronavirus Covoid-19 IRFU Ireland Italy Simon Harris Six Nations

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