Next Six Nations campaign set to start behind closed doors
Some Six Nations games this season could go behind closed doors if the situation around Covid-19 does not improve.
Currently, five of the six participating countries have crowd restrictions – with the exception of England – and organizers are in talks to see if they will be lifted in time for the tournament to kick off in a month’s time.
According to reports in England, organizers are determined to avoid cancellations and would rather move forward in empty stadiums rather than postpone matches.
Ireland host Wales in their opener at Aviva Stadium on February 5, before facing France in Paris a week later. Currently, crowds in Ireland and France are limited to 5,000.
In Ireland, these restrictions are in place until January 31, and, with the IRFU deriving the majority of its income from internationals, and three home games against Wales, Italy and Scotland scheduled for this spring, the governing body will be desperate to see that number increase by next month.
Vote for the Irish Independent Sports Star of the Year 2021, Click here.
New rules for travel to and from France are also expected to cause disruption, with the French government requiring all members of travel groups to be doubly vaccinated to be allowed entry from January 15.
Although the IRFU reported a 99.2% vaccination rate among its playing, coaching and administrative staff in October, it is understood that not all members of the national team are fully vaccinated.
This could prevent some squad members from making it to the second round game against France. It could also have a disruptive influence on the Heineken Champions Cup.
Rounds one and two were heavily disrupted by the virus ahead of Christmas, and organizers are working on government guarantees that rounds three and four can take place on the weekends of January 14 and 21.
âThe EPCR continues to work with leagues and unions to secure assurance that travel exemptions for players, club staff and match officials will be in place for Heineken rounds 3 and 4 matches. Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup, âsaid a spokesperson. .