Rugby Union

Ulster match off due to Coronavirus outbreak in Italy

Both Guinness PRO14 fixtures scheduled to take place in Italy this weekend have been postponed due to restrictions enforced by authorities dealing with the threat posed by the Coronavirus outbreak.. Picture by John Dickson

Ulster's Guinness PRO14 match against Italian side Benetton on Saturday has been postponed due to restrictions enforced by authorities dealing with the Coronavirus outbreak in Italy.

The Ospreys match against Zebre at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in Parma on the same day has also been postponed.

Plans are being made to reschedule both round-13 fixtures.

"To ensure the safety of our players and spectators PRO14 Rugby fully supports the preventative measures taken in Italy and will adhere to the directives from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and local authorities," read a statement on the PRO14 website.

"The current restrictions are in place until March 1 and PRO14 Rugby will remain in contact with the FIR (Italian Union), Zebre Rugby Club, Benetton Rugby and World Rugby to monitor (the) situation on a daily basis."

Restrictions on public gatherings and sporting events put in place by the Italian authorities apply in the Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna and Veneto regions.

A Women's Six Nations game and four Serie A football fixtures were postponed over the weekend.

In addition, fixtures in Italy's national rugby championship - Top 12 - and all domestic rugby activities have also been postponed ahead of next weekend.

The latest WHO report has listed 78 countries with confirmed cases of Coronavirus.

Milan-San Remo, one of the biggest one-day races on the cycling calendar, could also be in doubt.

Mark Cavendish is among the riders targeting the 'Monument' that is scheduled for March 21.

Mauro Vegni, race director for RCS who organise the event, told Eurosport: "Our hope is that they can stop or slow down the rate of contagion adn we can come back to a normal situation. This is for all Italy and Italian people before we think of the races.

"We're involved with several events coming up. We're still optimistic with regard to the first two races - Strade-Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico - if nothing more happens of course, but Milan-San Remo is in a different situation. That's because it involves an area in Lombardy that has quite a lot of problems at the moment.

"We've still got three weeks to go and we hope that the situation gets better. Otherwise it's difficult to think about a Plan B to be honest.

"If the area of Lombardy remains in the same situation, where the race starts in Milan, I think we must fear that the national health administration and the Italian Olympic committee might ask us to cancel Milan-San Remo."

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