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Six Nations: No compensation for Irish fans

By Paul Melia

No compensation will be available for thousands of rugby fans who travelled to Saturday night's Ireland-France match which was controversially called off just before kick-off because the pitch was frozen.





And last night it emerged there are serious concerns over whether fans who cannot afford to travel for the rescheduled match will receive ticket refunds, or if supporters who threw away their tickets in the Stade de France before the cancellation will have new ones issued.



A spokesman for the IRFU said it was up to the French Rugby Federation (FFR) to decide if refunds would be paid or new tickets issued. Some 5,000 Irish fans who travelled will be affected.



"We simply don't know," an IRFU spokesman said. "It is entirely up to the French federation with regard to refunds. The communication was that the game was being rescheduled, so the tickets will be accepted for the second game.



"We've never been in the position where tickets had to be reissued or refunded. I'm not aware of how the French will deal with that but we have communicated our concerns with the Six Nations (tournament organisers) and the French federation.



"It's entirely out of our hands. It's a legal position, irrespective of what outlet they (the tickets) went through.



"Unfortunately, the biggest downside is for the fans and the team feel so bad for the 5,000 who travelled.



"We are in the dark as much as anybody until the Six Nations convene a meeting about a rescheduled date."



A date for the fixture is likely to be announced today, with the match expected to be played either this weekend or the weekend starting March 2.



It could take place on the Friday, Saturday or Sunday of either weekend.



Flights leaving Dublin next Friday and returning the following day range in cost from €365 with Air France to €431 with Aer Lingus. Air fares on Friday March 2 cost between €217 and €233.



Ryanair is charging €396.32 to fly from Dublin to Paris-Beauvais on Friday, February 17, returning the next day, and €350.32 to fly on the Saturday.



The same ticket costs €249.32 on Friday March 2, and €251.32 on Saturday.



Fans yesterday reported spending between €500 and €1,000 for a one-night trip to Paris for the match.



The Consumers Association of Ireland called on airlines not to hike fares for the match, adding that the French federation should refund tickets or issue new ones if necessary.



"The tickets should be replaced or refunded," spokesman Michael Kilcoyne said.



"The French took the decision to postpone the match, and customers went to the match in good faith.



"If they don't refund or replace, it says a lot about the French. These are fans and supporters, and if they can't be looked after it reflects very poorly on them.



"The airlines should also give air fares at the normal rate."

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