News24

IRB: Right call was made

2012-02-12 19:19

Dublin - The International Rugby Board (IRB) on Sunday expressed its support for English referee Dave Pearson over his decision to postpone the Six Nations match between France and Ireland.

Pearson had passed the Stade de France pitch fit 90 minutes before the 20:00 GMT kick-off on Saturday, but temperatures of -5 degrees Celsius, with a wind chill of -11C, had made it rock hard by the time the teams were preparing to come out.

The Englishman duly informed the teams he thought the pitch was unplayable, to leave a near-capacity 80 000 crowd fuming at the late postponment.

But the IRB, rugby union's governing body, said it "supports... Pearson over the decision he made in deeming the Stade de France pitch to be unplayable".

"Player welfare and safety is the primary concern for the IRB and its match officials," it said.

"Having witnessed and assessed the rapid deterioration of the playing surface between the final pitch inspection and the scheduled kick-off time, and following consultation with the match official team, both coaches and championship organisers, Pearson deemed the pitch unplayable on player welfare grounds."

The match is now slated to be played either next weekend, a planned Six Nations rest when the Stade de France is in use on Saturday for a Top 14 match between Stade Francais and Toulon scheduled at 15:00 GMT, or the weekend of March 3-4.

If the teams do play on March 3-4, it would mean them having to play on four consecutive weekends.

It is first time since 1985 that a Five Nations/Six Nations match has been called off because of the weather.

And the 2001 tournament saw three Ireland matches postponed until September and October of that year because of an epidemic of foot-and-mouth disease.

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