herald

Friday 15 December 2017

Paris refixture penned in for March 3/4 slot

IRELAND'S postponed Six Nations clash with France will be played on either March 3 or 4 rather than next weekend, as the French would prefer.

An announcement on the refixture was made late last night following Saturday's last-minute cancellation at the Stade de France, with the French Rugby Federation confirming that the match will be played in three weeks' time.

It is felt that, following Saturday night's frozen pitch debacle, a Friday night kick-off will not be risked, ruling out March 2.

Logistically, returning to Paris for a match next weekend would have been highly problematic at such short notice and rescheduling for the start of March, although it would mean four games in a row for both sides, is the better solution -- particularly on the assumption that there will be less risk of freezing temperatures.

The blame game that blew up after Saturday night's farcical scenes deepened yesterday, with confirmation that French television asked to change Saturday's kick-off to 3pm instead of 9pm but were refused by the Six Nations.

Earlier, coach Declan Kidney had hinted that Ireland would travel back to France in three weeks' time.

"It's extremely disappointing for everybody, for people who put their hard-earned money into going over. For the supporters, our hearts go out to them because they've been magnificent for us," he said.

"We're just hoping they are able to stand by us and look forward to the game against Italy in two weeks' time," he let slip ahead of the exact match day and time, which is expected to be confirmed today.

The fact that Kidney mentioned the Italian match as next on the agenda indicates a return to France has been put on the long finger.

Nonetheless, Kidney wasted no time in apologising to the Irish supporters and appealing to their loyalty, knowing that the decision was taken out of Irish hands.

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