Following the postponement of the France v Ireland match yesterday at the Stade de France in Paris the Six Nations wish to clarify the operational regulations regarding matches being postponed.
In the first instance the Six Nations Council would like to express regret that thousands of supporters were left disappointed and frustrated by this late postponement last night in Paris.
It is however important to clarify how the tournament operates. The 6 Nations Championship is run annually according to the Operations and Procedures Manual which is the unanimously agreed rules of the Championship. These are updated annually and are signed up to by each participating Union prior to the commencement of the tournament.
Under the rules the Six Nations Council is responsible for the scheduling of matches, including selection of the date, kick off time, and venue for each match. It is then the responsibility of the host Union to stage the match at the agreed time, place and venue. The only change that is allowed to this agreed schedule is subject to the following.
1. It will be for the Host Union to decide whether a Match is to be postponed or abandoned for health and safety reasons or
2. It will be for the Match referee to decide whether a Match is to be postponed (i.e. not started) or abandoned (i.e. stopped once it has begun) due to the condition of the pitch.
There are no other parties that can make a decision to postpone a 6 Nations match.
In the circumstances the 6 Nations would like to acknowledge the huge effort the FFR made to try to ensure the game went ahead. However with regard to the particular circumstances of the decision in Paris this weekend, the match referee Dave Pearson, attended Stade de France on Friday 10 February at 4pm and carried out an initial pitch inspection with the Six Nations representative, and a representative of the stadium management.
A further pitch inspection was carried out on the referee’s arrival at the stadium on Saturday at 7pm, with the Six Nations representative and the host Union match manager, after the covers were taken off. At that stage the pitch was deemed playable.
The weather conditions deteriorated rapidly and by the time the Referee went back on the pitch during warm up there were a couple of areas which were of concern to him. He asked to speak to both coaches and it was agreed to try and heat the designated areas in order for the match to go ahead. However as this was being put in place more areas of concern developed and with Player safety at stake, the referee had no option but to declare the pitch unplayable.
Player welfare is paramount and the Six Nations believe the referee’s decision was the right one under the circumstances.
A rescheduled date will be announced as soon as possible.