It appears that next weekend’s third-place playoff in the Women’s Six Nations will be switched from Parma to Dublin as a result of Covid restrictions here. The decision just awaits Government approval before being formally confirmed.

Saturday’s heavy defeat to France was a serious tumble from the highs of the previous weekend’s victory over Wales. Defeat for Ireland and victory for Italy over Scotland meant that a trip to Italy was on the cards but that would have meant serious problems for the Irish squad.

The vast majority of the Irish team remain outside the professional rugby bubble and with Italy on the government list for mandatory quarantine, a number would have been unable to take the additional ten days away from work. Linda Djougang as an example is one player who is working in the Health Service as a student nurse in Tallaght Hospital.

The exemption for sporting travel that was secured last week in order o allow France to travel here for Saturday’s game is mainly to enable travel into Ireland for overseas competitors.

They still need to travel, stay and play in a ‘bubble’ with the details of each event approved by Sport Ireland and certified by the HSE. Players who are returning home after representing Ireland will still have to quarantine, just not in a hotel as is the case for the general population.

The question of the legality of the quarantine requirement under European law means it is coming under pressure but it will still be in place next weekend.

A diminished Irish team would not be good for the profile of the game here or the strides that Six Nations have made in raising the profile of the tournament.

Next weekend’s first-place decider between England and France will be televised on the BBC, a first for the Women’s game, and all of Ireland’s matches are televised on RTÉ.

That high level of visibility may have seemed like a double-edged sword on Saturday as France ran riot with eight tries, but the beauty of sport is that there is always another day.

Being seen in competitive action against Italy, with both sides fielding their strongest line ups will be good for the game, and if Government restrictions only make that possible at Energia Park in Dublin rather than in Italy, then full credit to all involved for seeking a solution.

 

Sport for Business Partners