Irish irate as Six Nations opt for Sunday rematch

Neither the travelling fans nor the players' clubs will like how France v Ireland has been rescheduled

The most talked-about non-event of the season – the postponed Six Nations meeting between France and Ireland, which would have gone ahead last weekend but for the organisers' insistence on a spectacularly stupid kick-off time – has finally been rearranged. Needless to say, the traditional and entirely sensible option of a Saturday afternoon date has again been ignored.

The game will now be played in Paris on Sunday, 4 March, at 4pm French time: far from ideal for those travelling from the Basque region and still less handy for anyone flying from Dublin, even if it is significantly better than 9pm in the middle of a cold snap so vicious that Captain Oates would have stayed in his tent.

Travelling supporters, who occupy an ever lower position on the Six Nations Committee's list of priorities despite being largely responsible for giving the tournament its unique flavour, have good reason to feel exasperated. Those unable to make the new date – or, perhaps more to the point in the prevailing eurozone conditions, unwilling to splash out hard-earned money for a second time – have at least been offered a full refund, albeit belatedly, but there was still a widespread feeling yesterday that this should have been a straightforward Saturday job.

Certainly, the Irish Rugby Football Union saw it that way. "We're disappointed with this decision," it said. "While understanding the difficulties that a postponed game brings to the international and club rugby schedule, the IRFU had proposed... that the alternative date be 3 March with an afternoon kick-off. This was based on providing the Ireland team, who will be travelling for a second time to Paris, with a seven-day turnaround between its remaining four fixtures in the tournament. It would also have provided any supporters wishing to attend the rescheduled game with an appropriate window of travel."

The leading French clubs, some of whom have serious Top 14 business on the first weekend in March, are deeply unhappy at the prospect of losing their most influential personnel for yet another round of matches. Clermont Auvergne and Toulouse, the two clear favourites for the title, are scheduled to meet on 3 March – a showcase fixture that will now be shorn of Maxime Médard, Vincent Clerc, Aurélien Rougerie, Wesley Fofana, Julien Malzieu, Lionel Beauxis and Morgan Parra. And that's just the backs.

The list of forwards not on view in that game will include Jean-Baptiste Poux, Vincent Debaty, William Servat, Yoann Maestri, Julien Bonnaire, Thierry Dusautoir and Louis Picamoles. At the other end of the table, the fast-falling giants of Biarritz, currently in relegation territory, will have to negotiate a must-win contest with Bordeaux Bègles without Imanol Harinordoquy and Dimitri Yachvili, the men who mean most to them.

Pierre Camou, the president of the French Rugby Federation, signalled earlier this week that the Ireland game, called off a few seconds before the advertised start because the pitch at Stade de France was close to frozen, should be held over until September as a gesture of goodwill to the Top 14 teams. He did not expect the idea to gain traction, as indeed it did not when the Six Nations wallahs gathered yesterday, but it may have earned him some diplomatic domestic brownie points.

It will be fascinating to see how the tournament custodians react to this embarrassment. After last season's version of rugby's "daft idea of the year award" – the decision to stage the Wales-England game in Cardiff on a Friday evening, thereby guaranteeing a 30-mile rush-hour traffic jam at the Severn Bridge toll booths – they wisely reverted to a Saturday-Sunday format. If this latest organisational pratfall has a positive side, it is that the next broadcasters to pitch for a late-night kick-off might be told to sling their hooks.

Meanwhile, France's coach Philippe Saint-André has opted to show his hand without further delay for the visit to Scotland a week on Sunday. Saint-André announced he would stick with the same players who prepared for the Ireland game, explaining that, as Yachvili was still struggling with his back problem, the former Leicester scrum-half Julien Dupuy would keep his place in the 23-man party.

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?