| 13.2°C Dublin

Irish trip to Paris remains in doubt over coronavirus


Andy Farrell

Andy Farrell

Andy Farrell

Six Nations organisers remain adamant that the remaining matches will go ahead as scheduled, despite England's trip to Rome next week becoming the latest game to be postponed due to the spread of the coronavirus.

As things stand, those games include Ireland's meeting with France, although there is still some doubt around the fixture after the French Federation met with government officials earlier this week. England's game against Italy had been due to be played behind closed doors before the Italian government ruled that it should be postponed.

With Ireland's clash against the Azzurri having suffered the same fate, Andy Farrell's side trained as normal this week, and yesterday got a hit-out against Ulster in Dublin.

The squad will now take the next three days off before reconvening on Sunday evening with the intention of ramping up their preparations for next week's game at the Stade de France.


However, as has been the case with both postponed games thus far, the relevant governments will have the final say on the matter.

"Based on the information that is currently available, all other Six Nations matches are set to go ahead as scheduled," a statement from the Six Nations read.

"As previously stated, Six Nations fully intends to complete all 15 games across all three championships when time allows. We will refrain from making any rescheduling announcements while we keep assessing the situation."

Meanwhile, Ireland head Farrell was delighted to get a "physical" hit out against Ulster yesterday as both sets of players were put through their paces in training.

Like Ireland, Ulster have been impacted by the coronavirus as their PRO14 clash against Benetton was postponed last week, while Munster's trip to Treviso (March 21) and Connacht's game in Zebre (March 28) have also succumbed to the same fate.

With no game to prepare for this weekend, Farrell decided to invite Ulster, who included internationals Jordi Murphy, Luke Marshall and Craig Gilroy, as well as Robert Baloucoune, who was named as a development player in Farrell's initial Six Nations squad.

"Ulster have come down and we were unbelievably grateful that they took the time to come to the High Performance Centre and have a great outing against the boys," Farrell told Irish Rugby TV. "It was a great session that was done in the right manner. It was pretty physical at times but done in the right manner and both sides got a lot out of it. We really appreciate them coming down."

Ulster captain Iain Henderson, who trained against his province, also welcomed the session:

"Ulster really lifted the intensity of training.

"A bit of competition coming into training, it was exactly what both sides needed."