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Irish ire at new date

Ireland have condemned Six Nations Ltd's decision to stage their rearranged match against France on Sunday, March 4.

The change to the schedule means they must play Scotland six days after visiting Paris for the second time this championship. The Irish Rugby Football Union had hoped the game, which was postponed on Saturday due to freezing conditions at the Stade de France, would be played a day earlier.

"We are disappointed with this decision," read a statement released by the IRFU. "While understanding the difficulties that a postponed game brings to the international and club rugby schedule, the IRFU had proposed to the Six Nations that the preferred alternative date would be Saturday March 3 with an afternoon kick-off."

The statement continued: "This was based on providing the Ireland team, who will be travelling for a second time to Paris, with a seven day turnaround between its remaining four fixtures in the tournament.

"It would also provide any supporters wishing to attend the rescheduled game with an appropriate window of travel."

Ireland's players and staff will return home immediately after the game, preventing them from attending any functions that evening.

The decision not to hold the game on Saturday, March 3 was made because of that day's busy programme of Top 14 fixtures.

French clubs had demanded France meet Ireland next season so they would avoid the prospect of losing their players to another weekend of international rugby, but this was not an option.

"We sympathise with the French clubs - it's very difficult for them," said Six Nations chief executive John Feehan.

"If we held the match on the Saturday, we would be going head to head with the club game and that would not be the right thing to do for the championship."


From Belfast Telegraph