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Ulster's postponed Benetton tie could go down as draw after PRO14 make coronavirus announcement


Dan McFarland

Dan McFarland

©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Dan McFarland

Ulster's postponed match against Benetton that had been scheduled for tomorrow could yet go down as a 0-0 draw.

The province's trip to the Stadio Monigo was called off on Monday due to the spread of the coronavirus in northern Italy.

PRO14 organisers are naturally hoping that the game can be rescheduled for the weekend of March 13-15 but there is obviously no guarantee that the outbreak will be under control in just two weeks.

Should that weekend not be deemed suitable, then Ulster's continued participation in the Champions Cup means that Dan McFarland's men have no certain clear weekends between now and the start of the play-offs.

In that eventuality, the game going down as a 0-0 draw - just as games did in the World Cup when Typhoon Hagibis saw pool contests cancelled - becomes the likeliest option.

"Beyond the two postponements this weekend, all scheduled Guinness PRO14 fixtures are set to go ahead – including the refixed Round 11 game between Dragons and Benetton Rugby on March 6," read a statement from the league.

"A process has already begun to find alternative dates for this weekend’s postponed fixtures involving Zebre Rugby Club v Ospreys and Benetton Rugby v Ulster Rugby.

"In the event that any future games are postponed and no alternative dates can be found to ensure the fixture is fulfilled, the board of Celtic Rugby DAC has agreed that both teams will be awarded two match points and the game will be deemed a 0-0 draw.

"This stands in line with current World Rugby practice and resembles protocols in other rugby codes and international sports."

The spread of the coronavirus has already led to the postponements of not just two PRO14 games tomorrow but also Ireland's hosting of Italy in the Six Nations, women's Six Nations and under-20s Six Nations next weekend.

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