England’s upcoming Six Nations clash with Italy in Rome set for March 14 has been postponed over fears of the coronavirus.
Italy have been inundated with more than 3,000 cases of the virus, with over 100 deaths confirmed.
Serie A have been forced to cancel over half of their fixtures in the past fortnight and have announced this week that matches played until April 3 will be done so behind closed doors.
Furthermore, matches to be played in Italy as part of UEFA’s Champions League and Europa League competitions will also be played in empty stadiums.
This measure, alongside all other sporting events to take part in Italy in the interim, was destined for England’s visit to Rome next Saturday. However, Six Nations organisers and the Italian Rugby Federation have been unwilling to play the match out without any supporters in attendance.
The decision has now been taken to play the fixture at a later date.
Italy’s fourth match of the tournament, away at Ireland’s Aviva Stadium, has also been postponed as part of the concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
Italy are rock bottom with three losses from three and are due to take their 15th wooden spoon since the Five Nations became the Six Nations in 2000.
England and Ireland are the opposite end of the table with two wins and a loss from their fixtures and could still catch France, who have won all three of their matches.
France play Scotland at Murrayfield on Sunday and England welcome Wales to Twickenham on Saturday.
The end of the Six Nations will be signalled with France and Ireland’s clash on the evening of March 14.
By which point, the re-scheduled games for Ireland and England against Italy may very well be meaningless should France beat both Scotland and Ireland.
Should France do so, it would be their first Six Nations triumph since 2010, when they achieved a Grand Slam. It would be their 10th Grand Slam, an achievement only bettered by England (on 13) and Wales (on 12).
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