Wales-Ireland match postponed


Saturday’s Six Nations encounter between Wales and Ireland in Cardiff has been called off throwing the immediate future of this year’s championship into a state of confusion.

The decision was taken this evening after the Minister for Agriculture, Joe Walsh, called for the fixture to be rescheduled in order to prevent any possible spread of the foot-and-mouth virus into Ireland.

Speaking from Brussels, Mr Walsh urged the IRFU to "postpone until further notice the Ireland versus Wales game and all associated matches by Irish sides in Wales over the coming weekend."

The current outbreak in Britain had already led to the suspension of horse and greyhound racing in Ireland as fears of the disease reaching these shores continue to rage.

The IRFU held crisis talks with their Welsh counterparts, the WRU, and the Six Nations organizing committee late this afternoon as a result of which it was decided to postpone the fixture.

The disease affects only livestock but can be carried by humans. Thousands of Irish rugby fans were expected to travel to Cardiff for the game and it was feared that the disease may make it back to Ireland.

The decision means that Ireland will now have to wait until the England game on March 24th at the earliest to continue their Six Nations campaign. With two wins already under their belts, including the impressive 22-15 defeat of France, England should provide the next opposition as the Irish seek to maintain their 100 per cent record.

But with no definite end to the current crisis in sight even that game is in doubt. If the outbreak has not been brought under control by that date it appears likely that fixture will also have to be reassessed and once again rescheduled.

In 1967 the last foot-and mouth epidemic in Britain led to the Government banning the New Zealand All Blacks from travelling to Ireland from Britain for two matches. The games were eventually canceled altogether.

And in 1962 the Wales v Ireland championship match had to be postponed due to an outbreak of small-pox in Wales. That fixture wasn’t completed until the following November.