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French showdowns for Ireland and Leinster set for elite rescue


Ireland's meeting with France in the Women's Six Nations, and Leinster's Heineken Champions Cup semi-final are set to be granted government rescue. 

France are due to play Ireland at Energia Park in Donnybrook this Saturday (Apr 17), while a fortnight later Leinster are scheduled to travel in the other direction to play La Rochelle.

However, both games were plunged into serious doubt by the Irish government's decision to add France to the list of countries which require mandatory quarantine upon arrival.

People arriving from such countries must isolate for a period of ten days.

However, the government are said to be working on giving elite sportspeople exemption from those rules.

"We are putting in place an exemption specifically for professional and elite athletes," Health Minister Stephen Donnelly told Virgin Media News, "And working closely with Minister [Catherine] Martin and Minister [Jack] Chambers on this, I am aware we have some big international events coming up soon.”

Ireland began their Six Nations campaign last weekend with a 45-0 win away to Wales, and the clash with France is set to decide who finishes top of Pool B.

Meanwhile, Leinster's Champions Cup semi-final match-up with a La Rochelle side coached by Ronan O'Gara is one of the most intriguing European games in recent memory.

Such a government move would complete a complete about turn, with the lack of elite status preventing the women's international rugby side from fulfilling last year's Six Nations fixtures. Elite status was only granted prior to this Six Nations campaign.

Meanwhile, exemptions for elite athletes would also ease the pressure on the organisers of this year's Irish Open golf.

Mount Juliet is due to host the competition from July 1-4.

As well as France, the United States, Canada, Belgium and Italy were added to the government's quarantine list last week.

Shane Lowry hit out against the measures while speaking at The Masters this past weekend, saying, "Right now, if you look at what the Irish government are doing, I think the Irish Open is going to be in trouble because they're out there putting France, Germany, and the U.S. on a quarantine for two weeks.

"So I don't know what's going to happen there.

"You know, it's pretty shit for me, - and I know things are tough for everybody at the minute - but my coach and my team are going home tomorrow, and I probably won't see them until the Open.

"It's not great, because I want them over here for the big tournaments, the PGA and the U.S. Open. We'll see what happens."

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Read more about

Champions Cup France Heineken Champions Cup Ireland La Rochelle Leinster Women's Six Nations

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