Coronavirus scuppers Ireland rugby tour of Fiji

Dublin (AFP) –


Ireland's tour of Fiji has been called because of a coronavirus outbreak in the Pacific island, the Irish Rugby Football Union announced Friday.

Andy Farrell's men, who finished third in this year's Six Nations, were due to travel to Fiji during the July international window.

The IRFU said in a statement that while planning for the trip was at a "very advanced stage", a recent Covid outbreak and subsequent lockdown in Fiji has "increased the level of risk and it is no longer viable to proceed with the planned tour".

The IRFU added it would be speaking to other national unions about the possibility of organising alternative Test matches in July.

IRFU performance director David Nucifora said: "A great deal of effort has gone into the planning of the tour which was predicated on a safety first approach.

"Fiji up until this point had been relatively untouched by the pandemic but that picture has quickly changed and unfortunately it is no longer viable to proceed with the tour."

Ireland coach Andy Farrell added: "It is incredibly disappointing that we are not now able to tour Fiji.

"Touring is such an invaluable experience in terms of what we learn about the group and that is why the IRFU worked tirelessly with Simon Raiwalui, the high performance general manager of Fiji Rugby to make the tour a reality and it is such a shame that it can now not go ahead."