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Confusion reigns after French farce

The Stade de France was the centre of farcical scenes on Saturday night when Ireland's RBS 6 Nations match against France was postponed just 10 minutes before kick-off.

Referee Dave Pearson made his decision after deeming sections of the pitch to be unplayable following days of sub-zero temperatures in Paris. The surface passed an inspection at 3pm GMT on Friday and 6.30pm on Saturday, but Pearson felt the conditions then deteriorated sufficiently enough to postpone the game.

The decision was greeted with a chorus of boos when it was announced 20 minutes later to a full and disbelieving Stade de France. Six Nations officials have confirmed the match will be staged during one of the tournament's break weekends, either February 18 and 19 or March 3 and 4.

The finger-pointing started soon after, with the French Rugby Federation highlighting Pearson's role while Six Nations stressed it was the official's decision alone.

A shambolic situation was made worse when a Six Nations official refused to answer questions on what had occurred beyond reading a statement at a hastily-convened press conference.

"The match was cancelled following the advice of the referee Mr Pearson. He inspected it yesterday and all was fine," read the statement. "He inspected again today at 7pm and it was still fine but when he inspected it just a few minutes before kick-off, he found the pitch was frozen in a few areas.

"He ruled that it was dangerous and this is why it was postponed. It is very important to let fans know to keep their tickets and they will be valid for the game when we have a new date. The rule is the game will be played in a weekend when no games are planned, so either next weekend or in three weekends' time."

Pearson was absent from the press conference and FFR president Pierre Camou left little doubt over who he felt was responsible for the chaotic scenes.

"It's very sad. I don't understand why the referee has not shown up," said Camou. "I am worried that two hours before kick-off everything seemed fine. I'm thinking of all the fans who have come from afar.

"We always take responsibility for the pitches but we are not responsible for the decision to call it off. I'm not sure the argument of safety is suddenly a good one at 8pm. Today a Six Nations game in Italy was played in the snow and the referee was French."


From Belfast Telegraph