Last Saturday’s Six Nations clash between France and Ireland at the Stad de France was postponed and has been rescheduled to take place on Saturday the 4th of March.
English referee Dave Pearson decided to abandon the game with 10 minutes left till kick-off because he deemed the pitch as unsafe to play on.
That first weekend in March is the only free one left during the rest of the Six Nations. The downfall to this is that both Ireland and France will have to play four matches in as many weeks, whereas the rest of the competing nations will get a week’s rest when the France/Ireland encounter takes place.
It was rumoured that French officials wanted the game to be postponed till early September so there would be no disruption to the Top 14 league as one of the teams, Stad Francais, plays in the Stad de France. But those plans were soon scuppered.
Even though Pearson deemed the pitch fit to play 90 minutes before the match was due to start, the IRB are backing him and defend his decision.
In a press released the IRB had this to say: "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 officials, both coaches (Declan Kidney and Philippe Saint-Andre) and tournament organisers, Pearson deemed the pitch unplayable on player welfare grounds."
Not only did the postponement of the match cause disruption to both teams' championship, but it also caused disruption amongst fans and spectators who had shelled out money for flights, accommodation and tickets in order to see their teams compete. Fans have been assured that they can get a refund on their tickets if they cannot make it for the new date.
In retrospect the match should have been called off days in advance as tournament officials knew what the weather was going to be like on the match day. By doing so, they would have reduced a considerable amount of stress on both teams involved and their traveling fans.