RFU and British government in...


RFU and British government in talks over England's Six Nations game with Italy

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The British government is in talks with the RFU over England's Six Nations trip to Rome as the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) worsens in Italy.

The match is due to take place in the Italian capital on March 14 while the corresponding fixtures in the Women's and Under-20s Six Nations are due to take place in the north of the country which has been worst hit by Covid-19.

Around 20,000 England supporters are expected to attend the senior men's match in Rome.

The Championship was thrown into disarray on Wednesday after Ireland's match against Italy on March 7 was postponed due to the threat of the respiratory disease.

The Italian federation has said its government will decide whether the England match on the final weekend of the tournament will go ahead.

Six Nations organisers said on Wednesday night that all of the other matches will be played as scheduled but they are continuing to monitor the situation.

Their official statement reads:

"We are fully supportive of any preventative measures taken in the interests of overall Public Health in relation to the Coronavirus and we will respect instructions provided by Government authorities and health organisations.

"Six Nations also continues to liaise with its medical advisory group.

"We will be holding further discussions with all six Unions with respect to the rescheduling options for all the affected games, factoring in the current dynamic situation.

"All other matches are currently scheduled to go ahead as normal.

"We will continue to monitor the situation very closely with all Unions and the respective Government authorities and health organisations."

The IRFU has said they will announce details of the rescheduled fixtures in the coming days but the planned open training session at Energia Park in Donnybrook is going ahead.

The cancellation of the Italy game in Dublin will come as a big blow to Ireland head coach Andy Farrell who must now plan for a match against France in Paris having not played in three weeks.

Former Ireland outhalf Ronan O'Gara believes that Ireland's Championship has become a more difficult task due to the fixture chaos.

"When you're a player, especially after how Sunday went, you just want to get on that pitch as quickly as possible," said O'Gara on last nights Off The Ball.

"Not for a training session, a training session helps but what really helps is having a game to get that out of your system.

"If it's the schedule [after the Italy match postponement] that they go to Paris next, that's a difficult task.

"I think it [would have been] ideal getting a little bit of confidence back under the belt playing Italy."

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