O'Sullivan calls for immediate match
February 13, 2012
Ireland fans were left disgruntled after the match against France was called off at the last minute © Getty Images
Former Ireland boss Eddie O'Sullivan has called on the tournament organisers to stage the clash between France and Ireland this weekend rather than leave it until March.
Ireland's clash with France was postponed 10 minutes before kick-off after referee Dave Pearson deemed the pitch to be dangerous following a week of sub-zero temperatures in Paris. Six Nations have confirmed the match will be staged during one of the break weekends, either February 18 and 19 or March 3 and 4. A decision is expected by tomorrow.
O'Sullivan believes the earlier option is preferable as it will be kinder to both squads. "It's a stretch to hold the game next Friday," said O'Sullivan, who masterminded three Triple Crowns during his seven-year reign at Lansdowne Road. "But if we push it out between the mid point then we'll end up with Ireland and France playing four matches back to back. That would put a huge strain on the squad.
"It would be much better if they could play it next weekend and then have a break after the third week. That would make much more sense in terms of players not getting injured or burnt out. It would also keep the tournament in kilter in terms of results.
"They do have to fit it in during the tournament because there are no free weekends running into the summer. We've never seen this before and I imagine we'll never see this again."
Declan Kidney and Philippe Saint-Andre, the coaches of Ireland and France respectively, accepted Pearson's verdict despite the enormous disruption it would cause to their championships.
"We walked the part of the pitch that he was concerned with and I understand why he made his call," said Kidney. "I'm very disappointed for the supporters and players, but I'd be more disappointed if I was sitting in hospital with somebody who had a very bad injury."
Six Nations last night issued a statement clarifying the procedure for postponing matches, highlighting that the home union and referee are the only parties able to make the call.
However, the question of why Pearson was not urged to complete a definitive pitch inspection on Thursday or Friday night, when conditions were forecast to be near-identical, remains unanswered.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The Scotland coach enters his first Six Nations with at least one familiar face to look to for inspiration - Joe Schmidt. He chats to Tom Hamilton
Italy coach Jacques Brunel spoke to ESPN ahead of his final season as Italy coach and tells of his desire to experiment and evolve
"There's no bull with me, I just tell it straight." Tom Hamilton talks to Warren Gatland in an exclusive interview
With the retirement of Adam Jones, Welsh rugby says goodbye to a great player and one of its biggest personalities too, writes Tom Hamilton