France and Ireland express disappointment
February 15, 2012
Ireland expressed their disappointment with the decision © Getty Images
The rescheduling of the Six Nations clash between France and Ireland for March 4 has left both nations frustrated.
The change to the schedule means they must play Scotland six days after visiting Paris for the second time this championship. The Irish Rugby Football Union had hoped the game, which was postponed on Saturday due to freezing conditions at the Stade de France, would be played a day earlier.
"We are disappointed with this decision," read a statement released by the IRFU. "While understanding the difficulties that a postponed game brings to the international and club rugby schedule, the IRFU had proposed to the Six Nations that the preferred alternative date would be Saturday March 3 with an afternoon kick-off.
"This was based on providing the Ireland team, who will be travelling for a second time to Paris, with a seven day turnaround between its remaining four fixtures in the tournament.
"It would also provided any supporters wishing to attend the rescheduled game with an appropriate window of travel."
Ireland's players and staff will return home immediately after the game, preventing them from attending any functions that evening. The decision not to hold the game on Saturday, March 3 was made because of that day's busy programme of Top 14 fixtures.
French clubs had demanded France meet Ireland next season so they would avoid the prospect of losing their players to another weekend of international rugby, but this was not an option.
"We sympathise with the French clubs - it's very difficult for them," said Six Nations chief executive John Feehan. "If we held the match on the Saturday, we would be going head to head with the club game and that would not be the right thing to do for the championship."
John Feehan accepted that changes need to be made to the current rules that only the referee, host union or Six Nations council sitting in its entirety are able to postpone a game.
"We very much regret what has happened. This is not something anybody would have planned for or would have wished to happen," Feehan said. "It's deeply disturbing. It's terrible that it happened.
"It has happened and we've got to look at how it happened and make sure it doesn't reoccur. We're going to have to revisit our procedures for calling a game off."
French federation chief Pierre Camou was also reportedly fuming after stating his desire to see the match played next season in order to fit in with existing domestic obligations.
"We're in a very unusual year that has already seen a long series of fixture clashes," said Camou. "France wants the match to be played next season due to the scheduling problems presented by the Top 14."
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