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Reduced capacity at best for refixed Six Nations matches as IRFU begin ticket refund process


IRFU chief executive Philip Browne. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

IRFU chief executive Philip Browne. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

IRFU chief executive Philip Browne. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

The IRFU has begun the process of refunding tickets for the two outstanding Six Nations fixtures against Italy and France. Provincial branches have outlined the process for refunds to clubs and their members, with that process set to get underway in the next few weeks.

The move means the refixed matches look almost certain to take place in front of restricted crowds or behind closed doors when they are played.

Although the dates for those matches, which were postponed in March due to the spread of covid-19, have not been announced, it is expected that Ireland will welcome the Italians to Dublin on October 24 before travelling to Paris to complete the stalled tournament on October 31.

The refunds will come at a major cost to the IRFU which generates the majority of its income through revenue generated by the senior men's team's home matches.

Chief executive Philip Browne has said that playing the outstanding games and November fixtures behind closed doors would cost the union between €10-15m.

The schedule for November remains up in the air with Australia and South Africa unlikely to travel north.

Instead, it looks highly likely Andy Farrell's men will play in a one-off, eight team tournament with the other Six Nations, Japan and Fiji.

From July 20, crowds of up to 500 people can gather outside in Ireland but sports organisations are hoping that restriction can be eased further in time.

Still, social distancing represents a big challenge. If the 2m limit remains in place, the Aviva Stadium capacity will be 8,400, while that rises to 18,200 if that limit is reduced to 1m.

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Irish rugby is due to return with a series of Guinness PRO14 derbies from August 22.

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