Joe Root says there is "an element of relief" that England's Test series in Sri Lanka was postponed due to the spread of coronavirus.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) confirmed on Friday it had made the decision to return its players to the United Kingdom after discussions with Sri Lanka Cricket.

England were due to play two Test matches in Sri Lanka, starting in Galle on March 19.

The ECB said the "physical and mental well-being of our players" is its priority and captain Root has backed the call to abandon the tour.

"The right decision has been made," he told Sky Sports. "There was an element of relief. You could see looking at the players that their minds were elsewhere, thinking about people back home.

"Now that we can go and look after families and be with loved ones, that's put a lot of guys at ease." 

England's second warm-up fixture with a SLC Board President's XI was abandoned on Friday when news of the Tour cancellation was announced. 

"Naturally there was a lot of talk in the dressing room and it got to a stage where it overshadowed the cricket," Root said. 

"Looking at how quickly things have happened at home, you're thinking about family and friends who might be a bit more vulnerable and that's hard when you're a long way away. 

"It was clear it was getting in the way of performance and affecting the mental well-being of the guys." 

England's Test tour of Sri Lanka has joined the growing list of sporting events to be postponed due to the spread of coronavirus.

In a statement on Friday, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) confirmed it had made the decision to return its players to the United Kingdom following discussions with Sri Lanka Cricket, "due to the COVID-19 pandemic worsening globally".

England were set to play two Test matches in Sri Lanka, starting on March 19 and 27. They completed their first warm-up fixture against a SLC Board President's XI in Katunayake last week and began another game against the same opposition in Colombo on Thursday. Joe Root's side were on the field contesting the latter fixture when the news was announced, but play was soon suspended.

The ECB confirmed its intention to reschedule the Tests against Sri Lanka as soon as possible.

It added: "At this time, the physical and mental wellbeing of our players and support teams is paramount. We will now look to bring them home to their families as soon as possible. These are completely unprecedented times, and decisions like this go beyond cricket.

"We would like to thank our colleagues at Sri Lanka Cricket for their outstanding support and assistance throughout this situation.

"We look forward to returning to Sri Lanka in the very near future to fulfil this important Test series."

Joe Marler has been handed a 10-week suspension for grabbing Alun Wyn Jones' genitals during England's Six Nations win over Wales.

England were 33-30 winners at Twickenham on Saturday, but there were a number of flashpoints throughout the match, with the hosts reduced to 13 men by the final whistle after Ellis Genge went to the sin bin and Manu Tuilagi was sent off.

One incident missed by the officials concerned Jones and prop forward Marler, who appeared to grab at the Wales captain's crotch, though there was no action from the officials. 

After the incident was cited for further review, Marler appeared before an independent disciplinary committee in Dublin on Thursday and subsequently received a ban until June 8.

Marler, who did not accept that the incident warranted a red card, has the right to appeal the decision.

Meanwhile, Tuilagi also appeared before the disciplinary committee. The centre likewise did not accept his tackle on George North warranted a red card, but his appeal was rejected and he is suspended for four weeks.

Courtney Lawes was also cited following the match for a dangerous tackle on Jones.

However, the committee agreed that Lawes' tackle, while an act of foul play, was not worthy of a red card.

Wednesday has seen the coronavirus outbreak take further toll on sport across the world.

Further matches have been postponed while others appear unable to go ahead due to increased travel restrictions between affected countries.

Governing bodies are also taking steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by cancelling planned meetings, while others are calling for further changes to the calendar.

Here are some of the latest events to be impacted.

Football's governing body has decided to cancel the next FIFA Congress in Addis Ababa on June 5. It has also pushed back the coming FIFA Council meeting in Zurich, due to be on March 20, until June or July. Attendees may be required to join via a video link.

In France, the Coupe de la Ligue final on April 4 between Paris Saint-Germain and Lyon has been postponed. The Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) said a new date would be announced in due course. It means the PSG-Metz and Lyon-Nimes Ligue 1 matches will be moved to the weekend of April 4-5 but be held behind closed doors. PSG will have Kylian Mbappe available against Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday, though: the striker is in the squad after overcoming illness, with L'Equipe among those to report he had tested negative for coronavirus.

Germany has seen the first confirmed instance of a footballer contracting coronavirus. Hannover defender Timo Hubers has tested positive but been praised by the club for his "absolutely exemplary" behaviour, as he immediately self-isolated before coming into contact with the rest of the squad.

Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich will face Union Berlin on Saturday behind closed doors, and the latter's derby with Hertha Berlin on March 21 will take place under the same circumstances. Borussia Monchengladbach have urged fans not to gather outside the stadium ahead of Wednesday's match with Cologne.

FIFPro, the footballers' union, has urged governing bodies across the world "to respect the wishes of players to take short-term precautionary measures including suspending training or competitions". Steps are certainly being taken in Spain, where the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has recommended football at all levels beneath the top two professional leagues to be called off for two weeks. The RFEF will reportedly meet with league officials to discuss similar proposals for LaLiga and the Segunda Division.

Meanwhile, Roma's match with Sevilla in the Europa League last 16 on Thursday is off after the Italian club confirmed they had not been given permission by the government to fly to Andalusia. Getafe had already refused to travel for their game with Inter in Italy.

The big news in England was that Manchester City versus Arsenal was called off as a precaution after the Gunners came into contact with Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis, who announced on Tuesday that he had caught the disease. In general, though, the UK has not been following the same stringent protocols as some other European nations and that is continuing for now. Arsenal's match with Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday has not been called off, while England's planned friendlies at Wembley this month against Italy and Denmark are, at present, going ahead. Forest have also confirmed all players and staff have tested negative for coronavirus.

In Scotland, Rangers boss Steven Gerrard says the domestic season must be completed, even if behind closed doors, "because people have earned the opportunity to get to the stage where everyone is at". League chief executive Neil Doncaster claimed last week that completing the Premiership season could become "very difficult".

The England and Wales Cricket Board has told supporters "to maintain good levels of hygiene" during England's tour of Sri Lanka. As a precaution, players and staff have been told to avoid casual interaction with fans, such as selfies and autographs.

In Bangladesh, the World XI v Asia XI matches that would have marked the birthday celebrations of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman have been postponed, while the Indian Open has been called off following a consultation between the Indian Golf Union, the European Tour, the Asian Tour and tournament sponsors.

MotoGP has also announced that the Argentina Grand Prix has been moved to November. The opening race of the season in Qatar and the Grand Prix of the Americas have already been rescheduled.

England pair Joe Marler and Courtney Lawes have been cited for incidents in England's 33-30 Six Nations win over Wales.

Prop Marler appeared to grasp the genitals of Alun Wyn Jones in the first half at Twickenham, leading the Wales captain to call on World Rugby to examine the footage.

The 29-year-old has been accused of an alleged infringement of law 9.27, which states that "a player must not do anything that is against the spirit of good sportsmanship – hair pulling or grabbing; Spitting at anyone; Grabbing, twisting or squeezing the genitals (and/or breasts in the case of female players)".

Lawes is also facing possible sanctions for a high tackle, also on Jones, in the second half.

The players face a disciplinary hearing on Thursday along with Manu Tuilagi, who was given a red card for a challenge on George North.

England's victory, coupled with France's defeat to Scotland, leaves Eddie Jones' side top of the standings with one match to play.

That game against Italy, scheduled for March 14 in Rome, has been postponed due to the spread of the coronavirus.

Lahiru Thirimanne has been left out of Sri Lanka's squad for the Test series with England.

The opening batsman was part of the squad for Sri Lanka's 1-0 win in Zimbabwe but did not feature in the two-match series.

He has not played in the longest format for his country since August last year against New Zealand.

Kusal Perera takes his place for this two-game series, though a finger injury could keep him out of the first Test.

Wanindu Hasaranga, impressive in recent limited-overs clashes with West Indies, earned a place in the squad as the 16th man.

However, a hamstring injury will prevent him from playing any role in the series. His replacement is expected to be named before the first Test, which starts on March 19 in Galle.

 

Sri Lanka squad: Dimuth Karunaratne (captain), Dinesh Chandimal, Dhananjaya De Silva, Niroshan Dickwella, Lasith Embuldeniya, Oshada Fernando, Vishwa Fernando, Wanindu Hasaranga (injured, replacement to be named before first Test), Lahiru Kumara, Suranga Lakmal, Angelo Mathews, Kusal Mendis, Dilruwan Perera, Kusal Perera, Kasun Rajitha, Lakshan Sandakan. 

Alun Wyn Jones is hopeful World Rugby will investigate an incident in which England's Joe Marler appeared to grab the Wales captain's genitals during Saturday's Six Nations match.

England were 33-30 winners at Twickenham, but there were a number of flashpoints in a clash that ended with the hosts down to 13 men after Ellis Genge went to the sin bin and Manu Tuilagi was sent off.

One incident missed by the officials concerned Jones and Marler.

Television pictures caught Marler apparently grabbing Jones' crotch, prompting a bemused expression from the Wales veteran but no action.

"I've got 138 Tests for my country," Jones told a post-match news conference. "If I react, I get a red card. It's tough, isn't it?

"Hopefully World Rugby have a look at it. Joe's a good bloke, lots of things happen on a rugby field.

"It's difficult as a captain these days because you can't speak to a ref about anything, it feels. I look at the touch judge. Obviously he didn't see what happened, and that's fine.

"There's a lot of footage that has been shown. It seems like a lot of supporters saw what happened.

"It's very frustrating that we talk a lot about TMOs and footage reviews, yet there doesn't seem to be a lot of it happening."

World Rugby's laws state the punishment for "grabbing, twisting or squeezing the genitals" starts at 12 weeks.

Manu Tuilagi's late red card to leave England's 33-30 Six Nations win over Wales briefly in the balance was not deserved, according to head coach Eddie Jones.

The World Cup finalists played some blistering rugby, with tries from the returning Anthony Watson, Elliot Daly and Tuilagi their reward.

However, frequent moments of indiscipline from the hosts helped to keep Wales in a captivating Twickenham contest and late scores from Justin Tipuric and Dan Biggar came after Ellis Genge was sin-binned and Tuilagi saw red.

The centre's dismissal came after he struck George North's head with his shoulder – a failure to wrap his arms on the winger sealing his fate after a TMO review.

"We were expecting a tough test right to the end and we got it, but when you get 13 against 16, it's pretty hard," Jones said, as quoted by BBC Sport, after his team's Triple Crown-sealing victory.

"We've moved on as a team. You look at the Six Nations, we had a slow start, because as I've explained, I didn't prepare the team very well, and since then we've been very good.

"We played well in Scotland in poor conditions, brilliantly in the first 40 minutes against Ireland and then a tough display against a good Welsh team."

Nevertheless, amid this satisfaction, Jones was unable to let his gripes with referee Ben O'Keeffe lie.

"We trained on Wednesday ... the whole session was 13 v 16, so we had some practice - we thought it might happen," he said.

"Is that a red card all the time? Well, it's not. It's not refereed like that, but it was today. We've got to take that on board, but how else do you stop the player?"

Frustration was not solely the preserve of the England camp, with Wales boss Wayne Pivac accusing his team of being complicit in their own downfall.

"It was a game that we're disappointed not to come out on top in," he told ITV after a third defeat from four in the tournament for the reigning champions.

"We gave England a good start, we played a bit too much rugby and they were good enough to capitalise on our mistakes. After half-time, we started the way we wanted to, but we let England back in again.

"We're our own worst enemies at the minute. We're working hard behind the scenes to get it right over the 80 minutes, and I think we're heading in the right direction. We're contributing to the result in terms of too many errors. Next week is a massive opportunity to go out and try to rectify that.

"There are times you can see what we're trying to do. In the second half, there were some good attacking raids with multiple phases when we put England under pressure. If we can do that for longer periods in games, and get our game management a little bit better, we'll be in a pretty good space."

Following pre-match consternation over the fitness of Wales fly-half Dan Biggar – head coach Wayne Pivac and assistant Sam Warburton having offered mixed messages with regards to his knee complaint – Tom Curry and Manu Tuilagi decided to seek their own diagnosis.

Biggar gathered Ben Youngs' teasing kick in the second minute, only to see a white-clad freight train hurtling towards him.

Curry, as was generally the case on a full-throated late afternoon in London, got there first, splattering Wales' number 10, with Tuilagi alongside to provided added, if largely unnecessary, muscle.

England's expert meshing of brains and brawn set them apart in the opening exchanges – Maro Itoje striding imperiously through the midfield before soaring to collect the subsequent line-out. Wales were drawn in, Curry did not miss a beat with the reverse pass and the returning Anthony Watson darted over for the first try.

There were plenty more instances where this undulating 33-30 win for Eddie Jones' men looked exactly as you might expect – one side tweaking and seeking to progress again having fallen agonisingly short of their World Cup goal, with their visitors in the early and often fumbling throes of transition.

Particularly in their defensive set-piece work, Pivac's men appeared a team breaking in uncomfortably new shoes; the glorious dances of a dozen years under Warren Gatland already feeling consigned to a fading era.

Wales' chances invariably came when an England team in a rush trod on their own jet heels.

This was never more evident than in the back-to-back passages of play that saw a swaggering 20-6 lead collapse to 20-16 either side of half-time.

Despite the clock having already ticked past 40, England sought to fizz the ball through hands on halfway where Tuilagi erred and Itoje was pinged for a high tackle on Biggar. Equilibrium long restored from that early pasting, he bisected the posts.

Then, 27 seconds and a lackadaisical restart later, Twickenham was aghast as Justin Tipuric gleefully scampered over.

Now was the time for Wales to open up some old wounds. England led 10-3 at half-time in this fixture a year ago, before unravelling and losing 21-13 in a fug of antagonised indiscipline.

If captain Owen Farrell intended to help his men turn over a new leaf, scrapping with George North and putting in a high tackle on Josh Navidi for Leigh Halfpenny to slot a pair of first-half penalties did not exactly amount to leading by example.

But from the tee, Farrell was typically unerring with six from six, and his combination with George Ford for Elliot Daly's 32nd-minute score meant Joe Marler's peculiar method of introducing himself to Alun Wyn Jones was arguably not England's most notable ball-in-hand moment of the match.

Those flashes of finely grooved, frictionless quality are the preserve of teams perfectly in sync with their wider strategies. Pivac's Wales cannot expect to be at that stage of realisation, although their unflinching spirit until the last bodes well for the journey ahead.

Tuilagi went over for another glorious try after more brilliant work from Youngs and Ford, although the bulldozing centre underlined England's remaining appetite for self-destruction with a late red card tackle on North. Biggar and Tipuric's late tries consequently came against 13-man opposition, given Ellis Genge was already ensconced in the sin bin.

Triple Crown secured, Eddie Jones' England don't look likely to stop playing on the edge any time soon, where the falls can be needlessly damaging but the views are often indisputably spectacular.

Alun Wyn Jones revealed frustrations with Wales' first-half sloppiness after they succumbed to England on Saturday, suffering a third straight Six Nations defeat.

Grand Slam champions in 2019, Wales have endured a disappointing campaign this year despite crushing strugglers Italy in their opening match.

Defeats to Ireland, France and now England put paid to any hopes of defending their title, and captain Jones was particularly exasperated by his side's latest reverse.

Wales went down 33-30 at Twickenham, but only late tries against 13 men narrowed England's lead after Anthony Watson, Elliot Daly and Manu Tuilagi - later dismissed - crossed for the hosts.

Jones suggested Wales were always struggling to recover from an opening period in which Watson scored inside four minutes and Daly added to the home advantage.

He also highlighted the repeated penalties that allowed Owen Farrell and George Ford to keep the scoreboard ticking over for England.

"I was lamenting a couple of territory giveaways in the first half," the Wales captain told ITV Sport. "We gave them two possessions in the 22, went to two lineouts, and it was two tries.

"You're chasing the game a little bit. Then we got the three to stay on the scoreboard at the end of the half and then a great riposte at the start of the second half.

"Unfortunately, they obviously capitalised on a couple of our indisciplines in our 22 and kept the scoreboard at bay.

"It shows what we can do with those last two tries. If we keep the ball, we can score. It's just too little, too late, in the end."

However, England star Ben Youngs paid tribute to Wales as they refused to give up on a seemingly lost cause.

"Whenever we started to feel like we got ascendancy or control, Wales are so good at just staying in the fight, and they stayed in and battled hard," Youngs said.

"Our discipline probably just gave them easy leg-ups. They're clinical enough to punish you and it showed in the last 20 minutes, where we were basically camped in our own 22 and couldn't get out. It was tight in the end."

The returning Anthony Watson set England on their way to a 33-30 win at home to Wales that keeps their Six Nations title challenge on track.

With Grand Slam contenders France not in action against Scotland until Sunday, Eddie Jones' England piled on the pressure with a hard-fought triumph at Twickenham.

The hosts were boosted by the inclusion of wing Watson in the XV for the first time in the tournament, and he got the first of three England tries.

Elliot Daly crossed later in the first half and, after Justin Tipuric raced through for Wales at the start of the second period, Manu Tuilagi secured a third win in four matches for England before being sent off with five minutes remaining. Dan Biggar and Tipuric grabbed consolation tries for Wales in the closing moments, earning them a losing bonus point.

It took Watson less than four minutes to make his mark, dancing through a pair of tackles after a smart move from a lineout on the right to score the opening points.

An eventful start continued as Jonny May departed with a head injury before a scuffle broke out in front of the England try line, prompting a penalty against Owen Farrell that Leigh Halfpenny dispatched over the posts.

Farrell and Halfpenny traded further successful trips to the kicking tee as the match settled slightly, but a spell of England pressure resulted in their second try after 32 minutes as the hosts worked the ball from right to left and Daly steamed up the outside to lunge over.

Another Farrell penalty stretched England's lead again, only for some sloppy play to allow Biggar to boot a response heading into half-time.

And Wales came out for the restart with renewed vigour, scoring inside 30 seconds through a stunning counter that sent Tipuric clear under the posts.

But England continued to forge opportunities for their kickers, with Farrell adding three more points before George Ford assumed the responsibilities - his captain struggling with a dead leg - and followed suit.

Successive scores seemed to dampen Wales' spirits, and a patient England move made space for Tuilagi to walk in on the left.

A slew of late penalties against England resulted in a yellow card for Ellis Genge, and Tuilagi departed for a shoulder charge to George North's head.

That allowed first Biggar and then Tipuric to score against 13 scrambling white shirts, but the late tries proved only enough to rescue the bonus point.


Watson wastes little time

England had been shorn of their star wing since the Rugby World Cup final, and Watson made sure to quickly show Jones just what he had been missing. His 18th international try combined skill, speed and strength in impressive fashion from the first notable attack of the match.

Captain Farrell unflappable

This was a niggly game, best evidenced by the clash Farrell became involved in early on, but England made the most of each Welsh foul. Farrell's kicking from various ranges was typically clinical, taking the match away from Wales each time they threatened a recovery.

What's next?

England must wait to learn when they might fulfil their final fixture against Italy, who have seen consecutive matches postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak. Wales complete their disappointing campaign at home to Scotland next Saturday.

Jofra Archer is "progressing as expected" as he recovers from a stress fracture in his right elbow and is set to make a return to action for Sussex in May.

The pace bowler suffered the injury during England’s tour of South Africa, featuring in just the first of four Test matches before withdrawing from the Twenty20 series against the Proteas.

In a statement released on its website, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced Archer has undergone a repeat MRI scan and, following a review by the medical team, is focused on being fit for the first Test against West Indies in June.

The 24-year-old, who will again be assessed in April, had hinted at potentially being fit in time to play in the Indian Premier League for the Rajasthan Royals, but will instead make his comeback in the County Championship.

"Following a repeat MRI scan undertaken this week in London, Jofra Archer has been reviewed by the ECB medical team and is progressing as expected from the stress fracture to his right elbow sustained during the South Africa tour in January," the statement read.

"He will have a further scan in mid-April before a return to competitive cricket.

"Archer's focus will be playing for England, starting with the West Indies Test series, which commences in early June.

"He will play County Championship cricket in May for Sussex to ensure his preparation is optimal for Test cricket."

Archer helped England win the Cricket World Cup last year and has played in seven Tests so far in his international career, taking 30 wickets in the longest format at an average of 27.40.

He recently signed a two-year contract extension with Sussex, saying: "I am very happy to commit long term to the club."

Mako Vunipola will start for Saracens in their Premiership clash with Leicester Tigers on Saturday after being omitted from England's Six Nations squad to face Wales on "medical grounds".

England stood Vunipola down on the advice of their medical team amid concerns over the spread of the coronavirus, the prop having briefly travelled through Hong Kong en route home from a trip to visit family in Tonga.

Though Vunipola was not placed in self-isolation and had not reported any illness, England felt it was best to leave him away from their "camp-based environment" ahead of Saturday's encounter at Twickenham.

Saracens took a different view, though, explaining that they followed guidance from the health authorities and that neither Mako Vunipola nor his injured brother Billy had "displayed symptoms of the coronavirus" following assessments.

Mako Vunipola will therefore take his place in Saracens' starting XV for the visit of Leicester.

Saracens are bottom of the table due to their 105-point deduction over salary cap breaches while the Tigers are directly above them in 11th, having won just four of their 12 fixtures to date.

Eddie Jones has warned Wales his England team "owe them one" after a 2019 Six Nations defeat that still irks him.

England were beaten 21-13 in Cardiff last year and Wales went on to win a Grand Slam.

Jones' side have the chance to atone for that loss at Twickenham on Saturday, with the head coach quick to remind his players about the opportunity they let slip in last year's tournament.

"You have got to remember we owe them one – you never like to lose to Wales, and we lost last year," he said.

"We were in position [leading] at half-time and we have learned from that. That was one of the key games that got us in our best condition for the World Cup.

"But it is still a game that I'm sure irks every England player who played in it. It certainly irks me."

England have recovered from their opening matchday loss to France with victories over Scotland and Ireland.

Jones insists he has not needed to mention the prospect of a Triple Crown to motivate his players and is thrilled with how his squad has come on during the Six Nations.

He added: "No, not at all, The only motivation is beating Wales. That is motivation enough.

"We have probably just had our best training run of the Six Nations. We have gone up another level.

"We are not far underneath where we were at the World Cup now in terms of physical condition and in terms of the intensity we can potentially play with.

"It has always been the goal to peak for this week. This was always going to be the crux game of the Six Nations for us so we deliberately had quite a slow build-up to it so we are at our best this week."

But Jones warned: "Wales were very unlucky to be beaten by France – all the stats from that game indicate they should have won it so we are going to be playing a very, very tough team.

"Wales are a well-coached team, we know they have lost their last two matches so they will come hard at us. They are always tough affairs that go down to the wire."

Scotland go in search of another Murrayfield triumph over Grand Slam hopefuls France this weekend, and England will look to put the pressure on the Six Nations leaders with a win over Wales.

The postponement of Ireland's encounter with Italy due to concerns over the coronavirus leaves just two round-four matches to look forward to.

France passed a big test in their bid to be crowned champions for the first time in a decade when they beat Wales last time out, and now Scotland, buoyed by a win over Italy, will be the next side to try and burst Les Bleus' bubble.

England are four points behind Fabien Galthie's side after a defeat of Ireland at Twickenham and will have home advantage again when they take on the defending champions.

With Opta data, we preview the clashes in London on Saturday and Edinburgh.

England v Wales

- England have won five of their last six games against Wales in the Six Nations, the one defeat coming last year.

- The Red Rose have lost just one of their last 20 home games in the competition (against Ireland in 2018 - W18, D1) and their 18 wins in that time have been by an average margin of 17 points.

- Wales have lost back-to-back matches and have not endured a longer run of defeats in the championship since a five-game drought across the 2006 and 2007 campaigns.

- Wales prop Dillon Lewis has hit more rucks (107) than any other player at the 2020 Six Nations. Maro Itoje (103) is second on the list and the England player has also hit more attacking rucks (85) than anyone else.

Scotland v France

-  Scotland have won each of their last two home games against France in the Six Nations, but Les Bleus have won 17 of their last 20 encounters with the Scots in the championship.

- Galthie and Gregor Townsend faced off against each four times in their international playing careers, with the present France head coach coming out on top on each occasion.

- France are the only side to maintain a 100 per cent scrum success rate on their own feed (10/10) in the Six Nations and have the best gain-line success rate of any side (48 per cent).

- Scotland have missed just 46 tackles in the Six Nations this year, the fewest of any side, and subsequently have the best tackle success rate (90 per cent).

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