Dramatic U-turn sees Wales-Scotland postponed

Julian GUYER
Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones took part in an eve-of-match training session hours before the Scotland game was postponed

Welsh Rugby Union chairman Gareth Davies admitted the widespread postponement of football matches in Britain due to the coronavirus prompted the U-turn that saw Wales' Six Nations clash against Scotland called off.

Saturday's match in Cardiff was cancelled just hours after the WRU said it would still take place.

A raft of sporting events were postponed on Friday due to the deadly COVID-19, including the English Premier League, which led the WRU to change their minds as the Scotland team arrived at the Principality Stadium for their final pre-match training session.

"It's been a tough week," said Davies, who told BBC Radio Wales. "We obviously followed the advice of the central government, Welsh government in terms of the scientific and medical evidence.

"That was the case until last night (Thursday) when we met to consider everything. We still thought that bearing in mind the advice that was the way to go.

"The Premier League, for example, were carrying on but that had changed for maybe obvious reasons.

"The English Football League went on a similar course, as did the Celtic-Rangers game, so I think we found ourselves probably the lightning rod for the virus and for the publicity.

"We spoke to government this morning who totally understood our position."

- 'Difficult decision' -

The WRU added that further announcements with respect to rescheduling the fixture would be made "in the coming days".

It becomes the fourth game to be postponed in this season's Six Nations.

No dates for rearranged games have yet been announced, although late October is thought to be an option.

The Scottish Rugby Union, who prior to confirmation of the postponement had announced a suspension of all rugby in Scotland said: "While it is disappointing the (Six Nations) fixture could not go ahead there are clearly wider public safety issues unfolding at this unprecedented time.

"We support the WRU in the difficult decision they have had to make and will continue to have strong relationship with them going forward."

Meanwhile, the WRU said that Friday's Six Nations Under-20 game between Wales and Scotland in Colwyn Bay will be played behind closed doors.

All of the matches planned for the scheduled March 14 'Super Saturday' finale -- Italy v England in Rome, France v Ireland in Paris and Wales v Scotland -- have been postponed due to the coronavirus after last week's Ireland-Italy match in Dublin went the same way.

There is no guarantee when any of the delayed games will be played, amid fears they won't be able to take place until October at the earliest, so congested is the club and international rugby union calendar.

France team manager Raphael Ibanez said on Tuesday he expected his side's fixture against Ireland to take place on either October 30 or 31.

The 2001 Six Nations saw three games delayed until September and October due to an outbreak of the highly contagious foot-and-mouth livestock disease.

The last incomplete Championship was back in 1972 when Wales and Scotland refused to travel to Ireland amid fears of terror attacks in what was then the Five Nations.

Had Saturday's match in Cardiff gone ahead as planned, Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones would have equalled former New Zealand skipper Richie McCaw's world record for most international appearances.

Reigning Grand Slam champions Wales, semi-finalists at last year's World Cup, were trying to avoid losing four successive Championship matches for the first time since 2007 in what is their first season under Wayne Pivac since he succeeded fellow New Zealander Warren Gatland.

Scotland, by contrast, were bidding to win three consecutive Championship matches for the first time since the 1996 Five Nations, as well as securing their first victory in Cardiff for 18 years.