Wales Six Nations game to go ahead despite virus fears: federation

Cardiff (United Kingdom) (AFP) –


Wales's final Six Nations match with Scotland is to go ahead with spectators permitted to attend despite the coronavirus pandemic, the Welsh Rugby Union announced on Friday.

Their decision comes despite the other two games -- France at home to Ireland and Italy hosting England -- having been postponed due to the outbreak.

English Premier League chiefs on Friday suspended all matches through April 3, after Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi tested positive for the virus.

The WRU, though, will follow the lead of racing authorities -- whose showpiece event of the National Hunt season, the Cheltenham Gold Cup, is due to go ahead later on Friday -- and government advice.

"Throughout the WRU Board have followed the scientific advice of government, Public Health Wales and medical experts and determined that any game would be held or postponed based on that advice," read the WRU statement.

"Enhanced facilities for hand washing and sanitisation will be available at the stadium and there are measures in place to manage any issues with attendees on the day.

"In addition supporters are urged to follow the advice that is widely available on government websites in relation to the virus."

The decision to go ahead will see Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones equal the world record for most international appearances on Saturday.

Jones' 148th Test, a tally that includes nine internationals for the British and Irish Lions, will see the 34-year-old lock draw level with retired former New Zealand captain Richie McCaw, the All Blacks' World Cup-winning skipper in 2011 and 2015.

Defeat on Saturday would mean Wales had lost four successive Championship matches for the first time since 2007 -- quite a decline from having secured the Grand Slam last year and reaching the World Cup semi-finals.

Victory would mean Scotland had won three consecutive Championship matches for the first time since the 1996 Five Nations, as well as securing their first win in Cardiff for 18 years.