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Coronavirus causes Italy vs England men's and women's Six Nations games to be postponed

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 09: Elliot Daly of England during the Guinness Six Nations match between England and Italy at Twickenham Stadium on March 09, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)
Image: Italy vs England has been postponed

England's men's and women's Six Nations games against Italy have been officially confirmed as postponed due to concerns over the coronavirus.

The same fixture between the two countries' U20s sides has also been postponed, meaning all three matches for the weekend of March 13/14/15 are now off.

More than 3,000 cases have been reported in Italy with over 100 deaths confirmed, with all Serie A football matches and other sporting events in the country due to be played behind closed doors until April 3 as a precaution against it spreading further.

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Sky Sports News reporter James Cole explains when the Six Nations matches postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak could be rearranged

"Six Nations notes the decree issued by the Italian Government on March 4th with respect to all upcoming sporting events in that country," read a statement from Six Nations organisers.

"The decision has now been taken to postpone the three matches between Italy and England (Men's, Women's, and U20) set to take place over the weekend of 13th/14th/15th March, with the intention to reschedule them at later dates.

"Based on the information that is currently available, all other Six Nations matches are set to go ahead as scheduled.

Emily Scarratt looks to break for the Red Roses
Image: The Red Roses are challenging for the Women's Six Nations title

"As previously stated, Six Nations fully intends to complete all 15 games across all three championships when time allows. We will refrain from making any rescheduling announcements while we keep assessing the situation.

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"Six Nations will continue to monitor developments with our unions and their respective governments and health authorities.

"We remain fully supportive of any preventative measures taken in the interests of overall public health in relation to the coronavirus and we will respect instructions provided by government authorities and health organisations."

England's final game of the 2020 Six Nations in Italy was initially due to be played behind closed doors.

But with the Italian rugby federation and the Six Nations unwilling to see the match played in an empty stadium, the decision has now been made to play the fixture at a later date.

Staging the game behind closed doors at the Stadio Olimpico would see the Italian Rugby Federation (FIR) miss out on gate receipts for a 73,000 sell-out.

The RFU has offered its support for the decision made to postpone games, although CEO Bill Sweeney conceded many supporters will be left frustrated.

Watson, Wilson return for England
Watson, Wilson return for England

Eddie Jones has made two changes to his England XV to take on Wales at Twickenham on Saturday, as Anthony Watson and Mark Wilson return.

"We understand the decision to postpone all three England matches against Italy (Men's, Women's and U20s) taken in the interests of overall public health," he said in a statement.

"We know this will be disappointing for all the fans who were set to travel next weekend. We are committed to the successful delivery of three matches against Wales this weekend at Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham Stoop and Kingsholm.

"Discussions with Six Nations are ongoing and we will update you with more information when we can."

Italy's match with Ireland, which was due to be played in Dublin this weekend, has already been postponed due to the coronavirus.

The decision to postpone the weekend of fixtures in Italy frustrates England Women's push for the Six Nations title, with the Red Roses topping the table.

Like their male counterparts, they must also wait to see when they will be able to complete their fixtures.

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Will Greenwood says England are being extremely cautious after Mako Vunipola showed no symptoms for coronavirus

England men's Six Nations game with Wales at Twickenham on Saturday does go ahead, although Mako Vunipola will not be involved.

The prop was kept away from the England camp on medical advice after he travelled to Tonga via Hong Kong, according to forwards coach Steve Borthwick.

He could play for Saracens in their Premiership game against Leicester at the weekend, however, after they confirmed the prop has showed no symptoms for coronavirus.

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