Bangladesh's tour of Ireland and England in May has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Tigers were scheduled to play in a three-match ODI series and then four Twenty20 Internationals against Ireland during a trip that was to run between May 14-29.

However, the games were already placed in doubt after the England and Wales Cricket Board announced on Friday that they will not stage any fixtures prior to May 28.

Cricket Ireland has now confirmed they will not be taking on Bangladesh as planned, with the T20 games having been scheduled to take place at venues in England.

"Once the scale of the COVID-19 pandemic was understood, and the advice of both Governments and partner boards was sought, it became increasingly unlikely that this series could proceed as scheduled," Warren Deutrom, chief executive of Cricket Ireland, said in a statement.

"We have a responsibility to protect the well-being of players, coaches, fans and the wider community, and will not hesitate to take a safety-first approach to our operations over coming months.

“We will continue monitoring the situation, and will liaise as necessary with relevant sports bodies, public health agencies and our stakeholders here and abroad, and provide further updates on the home season in due course."

The COVID-19 outbreak had already forced Bangladesh to shelve plans for a return trip to Pakistan, where they were due to play a one-off 50-over game and also the second Test of the series in Karachi.

Kevin O'Brien hit a match-winning six as Ireland defeated Afghanistan in a dramatic super over to avoid a Twenty20 series whitewash.

With all three matches being played in Greater Noida, India, the series outcome was already decided after the opening two contests were won by Afghanistan, but that did not prevent a thrilling finale.

Ireland posted 142-8 after winning the toss and electing to bat, Afghanistan debutant Qais Ahmad and Naveen-ul-Haq combining for six wickets as Gareth Delany top-scored with 37.

In response, an innings of 42 from opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz set up an intriguing run chase which left his side needing 16 off the final over.

It looked like it was all over for Afghanistan when captain Asghar Afghan (32) was dismissed with three balls left and 13 runs still needed. 

But Rashid Khan, helped by two wides from bowler Josh Little, hit a four off the last delivery to thrillingly force a super over as they ended on 142-7.

Craig Young then superbly restricted Afghanistan to only eight and although Ireland initially stumbled, leaving them needing three off the final ball, man-of-the-match O'Brien cleared the ropes.

France's decisive Six Nations encounter with Ireland has been postponed due to the spread of coronavirus.

Les Bleus' hopes of a Grand Slam were ended by a defeat to Scotland on Sunday, and they are now level on points with England on 13 points after four matches.

They can still clinch the title with a victory over Ireland at the Stade de France, but now face a wait to have that fixture played.

France's sports minister Roxana Maracineanu announced on Monday that the game will not take place as scheduled on Saturday.

Maracineanu did not confirm a new date for the game, which is the second Ireland match of the tournament to be postponed.

Their clash with Italy, which had been due to go ahead last Saturday in Dublin, was also called off.

France has 1,116 confirmed cases of coronavirus, the second most in Europe behind Italy (7,375).

Afghanistan defeated Ireland by 21 runs to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match Twenty20 series.

Captain Asghar Afghan led the way with 49 from just 28 deliveries as Afghanistan – who won a rain-hit opening game between the teams on Friday - posted 184-4 in Greater Noida.

Openers Hazratullah Zazai and Rahmanullah Gurbaz made 28 and 35 respectively while Mohammad Nabi contributed 27, with all Afghanistan's batsmen reaching double figures against an attack that used seven different bowlers.

Ireland’s reply was restricted by Mujeeb Ur Rahman, the spinner dismissing opening duo Paul Stirling and Kevin O'Brien on his way to figures of 3-38 from four overs.

Andy Balbirnie top-scored with 46 and Harry Tector hit 37, the latter becoming the last of Mujeeb's wickets, but they came well short in the final reckoning, finishing on 163-6.

Afghanistan will have the chance to complete a sweep when the third and final T20 takes place on Tuesday at the same venue.

Najibullah Zadran and Rashid Khan guided Afghanistan to an 11-run DLS victory over Ireland in the first of three Twenty20 International clashes.

Rain stopped play with Afghanistan on 133-5 after 15 overs, needing 40 runs from 30 balls as they chased down a victory target of 173 in Greater Noida, India.

Afghanistan beat West Indies in their most recent T20I series and Zadran ensured they got over the line on Friday, his 42 runs from 21 balls coming in a crucial partnership of 63 with Samiullah Shinwari (28).

Paul Stirling (60) and Kevin O'Brien (35) had earlier given Ireland an electric start, though their innings lost momentum after the openers had been dismissed, with Rashid recording impressive figures of 3-22 from his four overs.

Six Nations organisers say all remaining fixtures in the tournament will go ahead but the situation will continue to be monitored amid concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.

The round-four clash between Ireland and Italy in Dublin, due to be played this weekend, was postponed last Wednesday in the interest of public health, but the match is due to be rearranged.

No further games have been cancelled following a Six Nations meeting in Paris on Monday.

England's final-weekend trip to Rome to face Italy is schedule to go ahead as planned, but the women's and Under-20 showdowns in Padua and Verona respectively may be relocated.

A Six Nations statement said: "The Six Nations met today in Paris to address the current situation regarding the Covid-19 Virus.

"Six Nations and its six unions and federations are following the situation very closely with their respective governments and relevant health authorities and will strictly follow any directive given that would impact sporting events.

"As it stands today, based on the latest information, all Six Nations matches currently scheduled are set to go ahead.  

"Six Nations is in contact with FIR and RFU regarding the possibility of relocating the Women's and U20 Italy vs England matches to another Italian location and we will make a further announcement on this in due course.

"However, the Italy vs England Senior Men's match in Rome is planned to go ahead as scheduled.

"Six Nations intends to complete all 15 games across all three championships when time allows but we will refrain from making any rescheduling announcements for the time being while we keep assessing the situation."

Ireland's Six Nations clash with Italy in Dublin has been called off amid fears over the spread of the Coronavirus.

Andy Farrell's side had been due to host Italy at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday March 7 in their penultimate game of the tournament.

However, the outbreak of the virus in northern Italy had led to calls for the game to be postponed.

The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) met with the country's minister for health, Simon Harris, on Tuesday and it was determined the game should not go ahead.

The matches in the Women's Six Nations and the Under-20 Six Nations have also been postponed.

An IRFU statement read: "The IRFU had a positive meeting with Minister Harris and his advisors today, where we requested a formal instruction as to the staging of the Ireland v Italy international matches over the weekend of 6/8 March.

"At the outset we made it clear that the IRFU was supportive of the Governments' need to protect public health in relation to the Coronavirus.

"We were then advised, formally, that The National Public Health Emergency team has determined that the series of matches should not proceed, in the interests of Public Health.

"The IRFU is happy to comply with this instruction.

"We will immediately begin to work with our Six Nations partners to look at the possibility of rescheduling the matches and would hope to have an update on this in the coming days."

Last weekend saw four football matches in Serie A postponed, including Inter's clash with Sampdoria as part of measures to prevent the spread of the virus in Italy.

Inter's Europa League meeting with Ludogorets will be contested behind closed doors on Thursday.

Additionally, this weekend's scheduled Pro14 rugby games between Parma-based club Zebre and Ospreys and Benetton Treviso and Ulster will not go ahead.

Ireland suffered their first defeat of the tournament as they were beaten 24-12 by England at Twickenham last Sunday. 

They are four points behind leaders France in the table. Italy have lost each of their three games and appear destined for another wooden spoon.

Ireland prop Cian Healy will play no further part in the Six Nations due to a hip injury.

The Leinster stalwart was withdrawn after suffering the blow during a 24-12 defeat to England at Twickenham on Sunday

Healy has been ruled out of the clash with Italy at the Aviva Stadium on March 7 and will not face leaders France in Paris on the final day of the tournament.

Pro14 champions Leinster will be hoping the 32-year-old is available for a European Champions Cup quarter-final against holders Saracens in Dublin on April 4.

Healy will have to wait to bring up a century of caps, with his appearance against England taking him to 98.

Will Connors, Max Deegan, Chris Farrell, David Kearney, Luke McGrath and Jack O'Donoghue were on Tuesday released from international duty to play for their provinces this weekend.

Defeat to the Rugby World Cup runners-up last weekend ended Ireland's hopes of winning a Grand Slam and leaves them level with England, four points adrift of leaders France.

 

Owen Farrell insists England's rip-roaring start in their Six Nations win over Ireland was not a response to any outside pressure.

England began their campaign with a poor showing in a defeat against France in Paris before grinding out a victory over Scotland amid tough Edinburgh conditions in round two.

Back at Twickenham against an Ireland side who had started with two wins from two, England earned a deserved 24-12 triumph over a visiting team coached by Farrell's father Andy.

Eddie Jones' men had come under scrutiny following a mixed start, while the head coach was initially questioned and subsequently vindicated for his decision to move centre Jonathan Joseph to the wing and continue with flanker Tom Curry at number eight.

"It's pressure from everybody else, not us," England captain Farrell said when asked about the outside voices.

"We're unbelievably happy with how things are in-house. We feel we are getting better and couldn't wait to play this game.

"I think you saw that from the way we started the game. It's nothing to do with anyone on the outside. We are giving ourselves lots of confidence to rip in come kick-off."

England were boosted by the return of powerhouse centre Manu Tuilagi, a player Farrell feels would make a difference to any team in world rugby.

"You don't need me to tell you [how important he is]," Farrell added.

"Any team in the world would want him by your side, we're lucky to have him. He's playing brilliant rugby."

England led 17-0 at the break with George Ford and Elliot Daly the beneficiaries of some shoddy Ireland defending, while Luke Cowan-Dickie touched down from an England drive in the second half.

Part of England's success owed to their dominance of the forwards, with the returning Courtney Lawes earning the man-of-the-match award.

"We knew Ireland were on good form and we came out flying, we put an emphasis on that all week. It was great to get out here with the boys," Lawes said.

"Any chance I get to put on the shirt, especially at my old age, I relish it. We just want to keep building, the goal is to be the best team the world has ever seen."

Andy Farrell shouldered the burden of blame for Ireland's Six Nations loss to England as his side were outplayed at Twickenham on Sunday. 

Ireland's hopes of a Grand Slam, following back-to-back wins over Scotland and Wales, were dashed as Eddie Jones' men ran out deserved 24-12 winners.

The visitors were up against it from the moment George Ford capitalised on Johnny Sexton's error to score the opening try after seven minutes, with the Ireland fly-half enduring a rare off-day.

Sexton's error-strewn display, which included two woefully miscued penalty attempts, summed up Ireland's afternoon as Farrell's charges came up well short.

"Disappointing. I think the scoreline flattered us a little bit," Farrell told BBC Sport after seeing Andrew Porter's last-gasp converted score narrow the gap.

"We started firing a few shots when the game was over and that's not what we want to do.

"I think it was a knock-on effect of cumulative errors. The opposition had something to do with it obviously, they played really well.

"They played like a side that was desperate to stay in the competition, so fair play to England for that. But we'll look at ourselves for the reasons we allowed them to play the game they wanted to play.

"First and foremost, I look at myself. Why were England up for it, winning the physical edge? That's down to myself.

"The reality is the last try at the end allows the points difference not to be too bad and we're in the competition.

"We go into the Italy game knowing what we've got to do. If we perform like we want to in that game we'll take it to the last weekend."

A strangely out of sorts Sexton admitted Ireland had nowhere to hide after a lacklustre showing.

"We gave a very good team two tries from our mistakes, not covering the chip kick, and then we didn't take our chances," he said.

"We were getting the ball on the back foot, trying to get to the edges and we couldn't, looked a bit silly at times.

"We still have a big home game against Italy and if we can do that we still have a championship to play for.

"We need to be a bit better, not play in certain areas of the field when we are going backwards."

England put themselves firmly in the hunt for the Six Nations title and ended Ireland's Grand Slam dream with a 24-12 victory at Twickenham.

Coach Eddie Jones had thrown a curveball with his team selection, in particular the decision to deploy Jonathan Joseph on the wing, but few were left questioning his wisdom at full-time.

With France having beaten reigning champions Wales on Saturday to pile the pressure on both of these teams, it was the hosts – winners over Scotland in atrocious conditions last time out – who responded in style on Sunday to fuel their ambitions.

Ireland coach Andy Farrell will have had his sights set on a clean sweep of victories in the championship after wins over Scotland and Wales, but those hopes were dashed by a team starring his son Owen.

George Ford's early try, facilitated by a Johnny Sexton error that characterised a rare off day for the fly-half, set the tone, with Elliot Daly touching down in not dissimilar circumstances before the break.

Robbie Henshaw darted over in the second half but any prospect of an Ireland comeback was ended when Luke Cowan-Dickie's converted try restored England's advantage, rendering Andrew Porter's stoppage-time score a mere consolation.

England, whose only Six Nations loss at Twickenham in the last 19 matches came against Ireland in 2018, started with remarkable intensity and soon got their reward.

Sexton, who later badly fluffed his lines from a penalty, fumbled from Ben Youngs' grubber kick and Ford was on hand to gather the loose ball and touch down.

Daly was similarly alert to get on the end of Ford's searching kick as Jacob Stockdale was caught off guard, while Owen Farrell added six first-half points with the boot to leave Ireland with a mountain to climb as, in 21 matches between the nations in this competition, no side had ever overcome a half-time deficit to win.

Ireland did prove far more determined after the break and Henshaw broke through the line to cap a prolonged spell of pressure, but Sexton's kick was again wayward.

Sensing the job was not yet done, England attacked with renewed vigour and Cowan-Dickie was the beneficiary of some excellent forward play as he crossed the line and Owen Farrell added the extras, with John Cooney doing likewise after Porter's last-gasp try.

Flying start sets the tone for England

It was a painfully slow start that cost England so badly in the opening defeat to France, but there was no sign of any such complacency on this occasion.

England were up and at Ireland from the first whistle and, after their initial momentum was halted by a fumble from the otherwise outstanding Courtney Lawes, the hosts were quickly on the front foot again, opening the scoring via a combination of the quick-thinking Youngs ​– making his 100th Test appearance – the ever-alert Ford, and the unusually flustered Sexton.

Sorry Sexton human after all

He is one of the very best in world rugby, but that does not mean Sexton is immune to error. He demonstrated that twice in the opening quarter of an hour, which proved a microcosm of the whole contest.

First he treated Youngs' kick through the middle like a hot potato, eventually palming it to the grateful Ford, then he shanked a three-pointer from the tee in a manner quite unbecoming. Another miscue followed in the second half to compound Sexton's woes.

What's next?

England welcome Wales to west London in round four on March 7, while Ireland return to Dublin to host whipping boys Italy on the same day. 

Devin Toner has been promoted to the Ireland team to play England in the Six Nations on Sunday after Iain Henderson was ruled out.

Coach Andy Farrell had initially named an unchanged team for the crunch Twickenham clash, with Ireland joint-top alongside France after winning their beating Scotland and defending champions Wales.

However, the continuity has been disrupted, as family reasons mean Henderson will be unavailable.

Towering lock Toner, who was surprisingly left out of Ireland's Rugby World Cup squad under previous boss Joe Schmidt, comes into the side for his 70th cap.

The change sees Ultan Dillane take Toner's spot among the replacements.

England are under huge pressure heading into what Lewis Moody has described as a "must-win game" against Ireland in the Six Nations.

Eddie Jones' side were lacklustre in a shock loss to France before getting their campaign up and running by beating Scotland in torrid conditions at Murrayfield.

The Rugby World Cup runners-up welcome Andy Farrell's Ireland to Twickenham on Sunday and former England flanker Moody believes the onus is on the hosts to get a result.

Speaking to Omnisport ahead of the England v Ireland Rugby Legends Charity Match at Twickenham Stoop on Saturday, Moody said: "Without a shadow of a doubt we all expected England to drive on after the World Cup. They faltered in the first game, the Scotland game allowed us to see they can knuckle out a victory in diabolical conditions. 

"All being the well the weather conditions will be favourable this weekend and we can really see where England are at.

"Ireland will come with confidence from the first two matches, they have the energy and enthusiasm of having a new coaching staff.

"For England it's a must-win game, because otherwise all of a sudden you're going into your fourth game having lost two, only just won one and staring down the barrel of a seriously disappointing Six Nations, which they started with big expectations.

"Without a shadow of a doubt there is a lot of pressure on this England side and coaching staff, which there always is, but we need to see them crack on and Eddie take them forward."

Moody, who made 71 appearances for his country and was part of the 2003 World Cup-winning squad, feels England – who won in Dublin last year – are slight underdogs for this weekend's match against an Ireland side who received a visit from U2 frontman Bono this week.

"I have to admit I'm not overly confident, I even think Ireland will come in as slight favourites," he said.

"England have not really fired so far in the Six Nations, they had that really disappointing start in France, they got what they needed in Murrayfield – which is a very difficult place to go and win.

"To knock out a win in those unbelievably horrific weather conditions was impressive, but this is the true test, this is the game that matters. They [Ireland] have a very well-organised side, with a new coach who seems to be instilling some real belief and I'm sure they've got a slight degree of vengeance from last year's upset at home to inspire them."

While England still have not found what they are looking for in this year's Six Nations, Ireland's desire to win may have been boosted by the presence of Irish singer-songwriter Bono at the team hotel.

Moody does not know exactly how the away side will benefit from that experience, but he suggested some song lyrics might provide some inspiration. 

He said: "I'm not sure what motivation that will provide, but it'll be interesting for sure. Perhaps there may be a few of his lyrics quoted beforehand, but I'm not so sure what impact that might have."

- The England v Ireland Rugby Legends Charity Match will take place at Twickenham Stoop on February 22, kick-off 17.30 and will be raising money for Restart Rugby, RFU Injured Players Fund and the Tom Smith Testimonial Committee. Visit http://tickets.quins.co.uk for tickets and more information.

Family loyalty will go out of the window when England and Ireland do battle this weekend, and France face a major test of their Six Nations title credentials against Wales.

Ireland beat defending champions Wales 24-14 in Dublin last time out, while France also made it two wins out of two with a 35-22 triumph over Italy.

The joint-leaders will not have home comforts for the first time in the tournament, with the third round of matches seeing Les Bleus travel to Cardiff on Saturday and Ireland taking on England at Twickenham on Sunday.

England captain Owen Farrell could inflict a first defeat on his father, Andy, since he become Ireland head coach.

Winless Scotland and Italy do battle on Saturday at Rome's Stadio Olimpico, where the hosts go in search of their first points of the tournament.

We take a look at what promises to a be pivotal round of matches with some standout Opta data.

 

Italy v Scotland

- Scotland have won six of their last seven Six Nations games against Italy, their solitary loss in that spell coming at Murrayfield in 2015 – the Azzurri’s last victory against any side in the Championship.

- Seven of the last eight Six Nations meetings between Italy and Scotland in Rome have been decided by seven points or fewer.

- Italy have spent 40 minutes in possession in the Six Nations this year, longer than any other side, making the most carries (300) and metres (857) in the process; in contrast, Scotland have spent the least time in possession during this campaign (33m 56s).

- Scotland have missed just 25 tackles in this year's Six Nations, fewer than any of their rivals and as a result boast the best tackle success rate (91 per cent).

 

Wales v France

- Wales have won eight of their last nine Test matches against France, this after winning just two of their previous 12 clashes with Les Bleus before that run.

- France and Scotland (7/7) are the only sides who boast a 100 per cent scrum success rate on their own feed in the Six Nations this year, while Wales have recorded the worst success rate at that particular set-piece - with 11 from 15.

- France’s Bernard Le Roux has made the most tackles of any player in the tournament with 38, one more than Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones.

- No player has beaten more defenders in the Six Nations this year than France's Antoine Dupont (10, level with Stuart Hogg), while he also has the second-most offloads with seven.

 

England v Ireland

- Ireland are the only side to hold a winning record over England in the Six Nations (winning 11 and losing nine); however, they suffered a record 57-15 to the Red Rose in their last meeting before the Rugby World Cup.

- England have lost just one of their last 19 home games in the Six Nations (W17, D1). That one defeat came the last time they hosted Ireland in 2018.

- Ireland have won 95 per cent of their lineouts in the Six Nations this year (19/20), which is the best rate of any team. However, England have stolen the most lineouts (5) in the Championship.

- Maro Itoje has hit 74 rucks in the 2020 Six Nations, more than any other player, and has also won the most turnovers with six.

Lewis Moody wants England head coach Eddie Jones to unleash the "fire" of Ellis Genge on Ireland in a blockbuster Six Nations battle on Sunday.

Genge came off the bench to score a late try that ensured England regained the Calcutta Cup with a 13-6 victory over fierce rivals Scotland at Storm Ciara-battered Murrayfield last time out.

Powerhouse prop Mako Vunipola is unavailable for family reasons for a pivotal round-three showdown at Twickenham this weekend, so either Genge or Joe Marler are set to come into the starting line-up.

Former England flanker Moody wants to see Genge, who described critics of the Rugby World Cup runners-up as "sausages" after the win over Scotland, in the front row from the start.

Speaking to Omnisport ahead of the England v Ireland Rugby Legends Charity Match at Twickenham Stoop, Moody said: "I love Genge, I just think he's something different, as is Marler.

"From a character point of view they are both very authentic, unique individuals. From a playing point of view Ellis just brings some proper fire, he's got that fire in his belly.

"You can see how hungry he is, how passionate he is for his team to do well. He's totally bought into that, you can see that with the post-match chat after the Scotland game, where he was clearly upset people were attacking his coach and his team.

"I like that sort of spirit in a player. Whether he's technically the best scrummager, I'm probably not a good enough artiste of the front row to be able to give enough information on that, but in terms of an individual I'd want him in my team, he'd be on the starting sheet."

Moody says the return to fitness of centre Manu Tuilagi is a major boost for England, particularly with Billy Vunipola unable to play any part in the tournament due to a broken arm.

The World Cup winner added: "For England, it will be enormous. Without Billy Vunipola and Manu it's a different proposition without that ball carrying. They get those extra yards every time and that ability to offload.

"Manu coming in would go some way to reinstilling that momentum in the England attack, it feels like it's been missing for the last two games - obviously you have to take into account the conditions against Scotland."

 

- The England v Ireland Rugby Legends Charity Match will take place at Twickenham Stoop on February 22, kick-off 17.30 and will be raising money for Restart Rugby, RFU Injured Players Fund and the Tom Smith Testimonial Committee. Visit http://tickets.quins.co.uk for tickets and more information.

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