The IRFU have confirmed they will follow the formal instruction from the Department of Health to call off the series of Six Nations games against Italy.
Last night, the department made the recommendation
to postpone the senior men's, women's and under-20's matches between the two nations due to fears over the spread of the coronavirus (Covoid-19).
IRFU representatives met with Minister Simon Harris and his advisors this afternoon, describing the meeting as "positive".
The official IRFU statement released after the meeting reads:
"We requested a formal instruction as to the staging of the Ireland v Italy international matches over the weekend of 6/8 March.
"At the outset, we made it clear that the IRFU was supportive of the governments’ need to protect public health in relation to the Coronavirus.
"We were then advised, formally, that the National Public Health Emergency team has determined that the series of matches should not proceed, in the interests of Public Health.
"The IRFU is happy to comply with this instruction.
"We will immediately begin to work with our Six Nations partners to look at the possibility of rescheduling the matches and would hope to have an update on this in the coming days.
"Ticket holders are asked to retain their tickets for now. The IRFU will be providing ticket holders with tickets for the rescheduled games or a refund, if they wish to receive one.
"Information on both these options will be released as soon as possible."
The senior men's game was due to take place on Saturday March 7 at the Aviva Stadium with 2000 Azzurri supporters expected to travel over.
The senior women's match was to be played at Energia Park the following day while the under-20s match was down for Friday March 6 at Irish Independent Park in Cork.
“I know it will come as a source of massive disappointment to rugby fans and sports fans in general but it probably won’t come as a great surprise with the developments we’ve seen in Italy in the last number of days and indeed hours," said Harris.
"We’ve now added northern Italy to the affected regions list for public health purposes.
"So therefore in all conscience, you couldn’t have a situation where you would be hosting a major rugby game in Dublin on the 7th of March, in effect encouraging people to travel.
"So sadly we’ve had to take the advice that the match will be postponed and obviously it’s a matter for the IRFU now to engage in that regard."