John Morris was "totally blind-sided" by reports that he is under pressure after Eddie Jones was linked with the Cronulla Sharks job.

Sharks coach Morris was stunned to hear that his position could be under threat following an NRL victory over North Queensland Cowboys last week.

It was then reported that England head coach Eddie Jones was being lined up for a sensational code switch to replace the 39-year-old Morris.

A 30-16 defeat to St George Illawarra Dragons on Sunday led to Morris being probed about talk of Jones taking his job, but he was defiant after the Sharks dropped to 14th in the ladder.

"I'm a young coach, that's for sure, but I think everyone across the game can appreciate the challenges I've had in the first 12 months," Morris said.

"We've had massive challenges around the club with the salary cap fine. We've had to let players go as a result of that.

"We played finals football last year in my first year as a rookie coach, so I don't want to sit here and feel sorry for myself or anything like that, but I think I've done a really good job so far and I've had a lot of injuries as well. 

"We still can't put our main side on the park at the moment. The Eddie Jones stuff obviously caught me by surprise and did a lot of people. I'm contracted until the end of 2021, so I can't read too much into that read.

"Speculation and rumour, I can't let that distract on me, I'm focused on this playing group and getting them going, we had a really good win up in North Queensland last week and we wanted to get better this week, but we obviously slipped up today."

Morris called for the club to back him after he was pressed further on his future in the post-match news conference.

He added: "You'd have to speak to the club, there has been no mention at all to me about my position, it came from left field after our win last week against the Cowboys.

"We were singing the team song in the sheds and it's reported that my job was under pressure, so that's totally blind-sided me. 

"But one thing is I've got a really good bond with the playing group and all of our staff and we're working real hard. We've got some unprecedented challenges around our club at the moment and we are all working as hard as we can to get through that.

"We had to release Matt Prior before the season even started due to the salary cap, we let Josh Morris go. We've had some challenges there and I think the more the club can support me in these challenging times, the better we'll be in the long run."

Franco Smith has been appointed as Italy head coach after leading the Azzurri during the curtailed 2020 Six Nations. 

Smith took the reins on an interim basis last November after Conor O'Shea stepped down from the role following the Rugby World Cup. 

The former Springbok was to take charge while the Italian Rugby Federation (FIR) searched for a long-term appointment to be made by July 1 this year. 

But Smith, who oversaw three Six Nations defeats before the championship was halted amid the coronavirus pandemic, has landed the job following an FIR federal council meeting. 

The 47-year-old will continue to be assisted by a coaching team that also includes Giampiero De Carli and Marius Goosen.

Smith's contract will reportedly run until after the 2023 World Cup in France.

Ten of the leading international rugby union teams are exploring the possibility of a new aligned schedule.

South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina - the nations that make up SANZAAR - and the half a dozen countries that compete in the Six Nations are aiming to collaborate for the sport's benefit.

Several unions have been affected by the impact of coronavirus, with World Rugby having postponed all July Tests and setting aside a $100million relief fund in a bid to assist those struggling the most.

Now discussions are ongoing between SANZAAR and Six Nations boards over a new calendar designed to limit club-versus-country rows and create more lucrative games between the world's best teams.

A joint statement read: "Even though there may be different preferences, from the outset the nations have adopted a mindset that has sought to eliminate self-interest and recognise that the international and club game have shared mutual benefits that if approached and managed correctly can enable both to flourish."

It added: "The nations, together with other key stakeholders, remain open to shape the options that have been developed in an effort to resolve an issue that has held the game back for many years and are committed to putting rugby on a progressive path."

Last month World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont suggested a Nations Championship - similar to cricket's recently formed ICC Test Championship - could get off the ground after being met with initial resistance.

 

Vincent Clerc is excited by the potential a youthful France side has but warned it is premature to be talking up their chances of winning the 2023 Rugby World Cup on home soil.

Les Bleus were top of the Six Nations table with one game to play against Ireland when the tournament was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic in March.

An inexperienced France team had started the Fabien Galthie era in style by beating England and were on course for a Grand Slam before losing to Scotland at Murrayfield.

French rugby fans have been starved of success in recent times, with their last Six Nations title coming a decade ago.

Clerc is optimistic about the future, but stressed the importance of patience. 

Reflecting on the Six Nations performances, the former France wing told Stats Perform: "It was nice to watch. It is enjoyable, we wanted to see them winning. They started very well against England and lost one game.

"We are getting excited with this team and that's normal because we know they are very talented, they have a good team spirit, the players want to be together and play for each other. There is a solidarity between the players, so we like them.

"But we have to be patient. They are young players, they can make some mistakes, there will be some defeats. We said many good things about them, but there are some difficulties, we can't be too severe.

"We have to give them some time to grow. They have a good potential and a great team spirit. It was what we were expecting. The team spirit and the values of this team were important in the last Six Nations, maybe more important than the performances on the field."

Clerc says France must show more proof that they can step up against high-quality opposition before the next World Cup.

"I think they have to be ready before 2023, 2023 is the final goal. I think that many players, who are now in the French national team, will play several World Cups," he added.

"I think this team has to be stronger and stronger to be at 100 per cent in 2023. That also means that, in the meantime, they have to win Six Nations, they have to win friendly games in November or in the summer, they need to win against teams from the Southern Hemisphere.

"It will be important, they have to learn. There will be some ups and downs in the next years."

April 14 is a date defined by the unexpected in the world of sport.

From a unique edition of one of rugby's most famous competitions, to an Anfield turnaround that defied belief, sporting events on this date have produced their fair share of surprises.

It is also a date that will be forever etched in the memory of arguably the greatest golfer of all time.

Here we look back at some of the best sporting moments to take place on April 14.

1973: France failure ensures five-way tie

April 14, 1973 was the day on which an anomaly in the long and storied history of the Five and Six Nations was secured.

A tournament that saw all five teams struggle for consistency came to a close in Dublin. France had the championship in their sights after seeing off defending champions Wales in their previous encounter.

That victory left them as the only team capable of winning the title outright. Triumph at Lansdowne Road was needed to seal it but, in extremely windy conditions, inaccuracy from the tee cost them.

France missed three penalties and a conversion as Ireland claimed a 6-4 win that ensured every team finished on four points. The lack of a tiebreaker meant there could be no outright winner, with all five teams claiming a share of the championship. Had there been a points difference tiebreaker, Wales would have again prevailed.

2016: Klopp knocks out Dortmund in famous Liverpool comeback

Six months on from taking over at Liverpool, Klopp was reunited with the club where he made his name in the Europa League quarter-finals.

The last-eight tie with Borussia Dortmund was finely poised after a 1-1 draw at Signal Iduna Park.

It was Dortmund that appeared poised to progress to the semi-finals, though, as Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang gave them a 2-0 lead.

Divock Origi pulled one back for Liverpool three minutes into the second half but Marco Reus looked to have put the tie beyond doubt, his effort leaving the Reds needing three goals to progress.

However, a rasping low drive from Philippe Coutinho gave Anfield hope and Mamadou Sakho's close-range header in the 77th minute set the stage for a grandstand finish. Dejan Lovren proved the unlikely hero as he towered to turn home James Milner's cross in the 91st minute.

Liverpool went on to defeat Villarreal in the semi-finals but were denied in the showpiece in Basel as Sevilla claimed a 3-1 win.

2019: Tiger caps comeback with remarkable Masters win

One of sport's greatest comeback stories was completed on this day at Augusta last year.

Most had doubted whether Tiger Woods would ever recapture the form that saw him win 14 majors after his well-documented back problems.

Yet, the closest challenger to Jack Nicklaus' major record of 18 inched one closer with the kind of performance many considered consigned to history to win his fifth green jacket.

Woods began the final day two strokes behind Francesco Molinari, but a captivating final day tilted firmly in his favour on the 15th.

Molinari sent his tee shot into the trees and then found the water with a misplaced lay-up, eventually making double bogey.

Woods, by contrast, birdied from two feet to take the outright lead, with a sensational tee shot at 16 leaving him a short putt for a two-stroke advantage.

He made par at 17 to ensure a bogey would be enough on the last, and there would be no last-gasp slip-up, Woods standing on the 18th green with his arms aloft in celebration of a triumph few thought possible.

Scottish Rugby will discuss a salary reduction scheme with high-earning players and staff members as they deal with the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The governing body has confirmed it will continue to do whatever possible to support all clubs, though income streams are "badly affected" with no games staged at Murrayfield as the season remains suspended.

Scotland may also be unable to complete tours to South Africa and New Zealand in July, while there are even concerns over their home internationals scheduled for November, when they are due to play against Argentina, Japan and the All Blacks.

Fearing a potential loss of expected revenue in excess of £12million, chief executive Mark Dodson has agreed to take a 30 per cent pay cut until at least the start of September, while head coach Gregor Townsend agreed to a 25 per cent decrease last month.

A proportion of Scottish Rugby's staff will be placed into the government's furlough scheme, while players will be consulted over the possibility of reducing their wages as the organisation tries to cut costs amid the global health crisis.

"Our players and our coaches cannot fulfil any fixtures and the money we normally expect to make from the professional and international game at this time of the year, and over the summer, has all but disappeared due to the challenges beyond our control," Dodson said in a statement.

"No one knows with any certainty when any rugby can resume.

"We have seen many, many examples of our staff, clubs and players across the country supporting their local communities and demonstrating rugby's values in daily life.

"Rugby makes a positive contribution to society and it is this positivity and our whole sport working collectively that will give us the best opportunity to come through this crisis, safely, together."

Eddie Jones has the best win ratio of any England coach, but the biggest prize eluded him last year.

England have won 42 of their 54 games (78 per cent) since Jones' appointment was confirmed in 2015.

On Thursday, the Rugby Football Union announced the 60-year-old had agreed a new deal that will run until the end of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

We take a look at the highs and lows of Jones' time in charge.

 

HIGH - A 2016 GRAND SLAM

Jones' first tournament was a resounding success as England beat Scotland, crushed Italy and then edged past Ireland and Wales in the Six Nations.

A 31-21 triumph over France delivered the Six Nations and a first Grand Slam in 13 years.

"I'm very proud of the boys," Jones told BBC Sport. "It's a great achievement by the team. I always had confidence in them."

HIGH - A 3-0 SERIES WHITEWASH DOWN UNDER

Later that year England headed to Jones' homeland for a three-Test series, and the tremendous start continued for the former Wallabies coach.

Having scored 39 points in Brisbane, a record for England in Australia, a 23-7 victory in Melbourne earned Jones' side their first series success on Wallabies turf.

After a 44-40 win completed a series sweep, England captain Dylan Hartley said: "We can all be proud of what we have achieved."

 

LOW - IRISH END WINNING RUN

England arrived in Dublin in March 2017 seeking both a second successive Grand Slam and a world-record 19th straight victory.

Yet Ireland had other ideas, overwhelming the visitors and claiming a 13-9 win as Jones tasted defeat for the first time.

"I take full responsibility, I didn't prepare the team well and we will respond in the future," Jones said.

 

LOW - FIVE-GAME LOSING STREAK

Fast forward 15 months and things felt very, very different for Jones' side as they lost a fifth game in a row, going down 23-12 to South Africa.

England had lost the last three games of that year's Six Nations - beaten by Scotland, France and Ireland - before back-to-back defeats at the start of the three-Test series in South Africa.

"We're a bit like an old car at the moment - you fix one bit and another part breaks down," said Jones, who saw his team round out the tour with a 25-10 victory in Cape Town.

HIGH - OUSTING THE ALL BLACKS

No one had beaten New Zealand at a World Cup in a dozen years, yet the back-to-back champions were stunned 19-7 in the 2019 semi-finals.

It was perhaps the finest performance of the Jones era, Manu Tuilagi's early try setting England on their way to a famous victory over the All Blacks.

"They've been a great team so we had to dig really deep to beat them," said Jones, whose side advanced to a final against South Africa...

 

LOW - FALLING FLAT IN THE FINAL

A week later England were unable to conjure up another spectacular performance in Japan as South Africa's 32-12 victory meant they took home the Webb Ellis Cup.

Jones' side were simply not at the races, a raft of handling errors blighting their performance.

"That's the great thing about rugby; one day you're the best team in the world and the next a team knocks you off," Jones said.

Eddie Jones will look to enhance his legacy with England over the next four years after signing a new contract extension.

It was announced on Thursday that the 60-year-old will stay on as England coach until the end of the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Jones, who had previously been in charge of Australia and Japan, was appointed England's coach five years ago.

Here, using Stats Perform data, we take a look at Jones' tenure in numbers.

 

78 per cent - Having led his team to victory in 42 of 54 games, Jones has the best win ratio of any coach in England's history.

42 wins - Those 42 wins are the second most of all time and Jones should exceed World Cup winner Clive Woodward's 59 victories in the coming years.

40 players - Across Jones' time in charge, 40 players have been handed England debuts. Of those, 26 are forwards and 14 are backs.

23 tries - Jonny May has certainly enjoyed Jones' coaching, the wing crossing for 23 tries. Elliot Daly has the second-most scores with 15.

52 caps - Jones has handed a cap to fly-half George Ford in all but two of his 54 games at the helm. England's current captain Owen Farrell has the second-most appearances under Jones with 48.

571 points - Farrell has by far and away the most points, though. His tally of 571 is significantly more than those of Ford (174) and May (115).

2 Six Nations titles - England won the Six Nations in each of Jones' first two campaigns. In 2016, Jones delivered the country's first Grand Slam in 13 years.

18 wins in a row - A second Grand Slam was dashed by Ireland in March 2017. That 13-9 loss in Dublin brought an end to England's 18-Test winning run, a joint-record they held with New Zealand.

7-0 v Australia - The nation England have beaten the most often under Jones is Australia, the country of his birth. England have won all seven of their matches against the Wallabies.

March 22 is probably not a date that is circled in the calendars for South Africa cricket fans and Steven Gerrard.

Those of a Proteas persuasion will remember it as the day their rotten luck at Cricket World Cups began.

Whereas for Liverpool legend Gerrard it was the afternoon the red mist descended in one of the biggest club rivalries.

We take a look at the major events that happened on this day in sport.

 

1906 - The first rugby union international between France and England

The Parc des Prince hosted the inaugural Le Crunch as England defeated France 35-8, beginning a 16-game winless run in the fixture for Les Bleus.

A 24-17 victory for France in the Six Nations last month gave them their 41st win in the 106 meetings between the two nations.

England have beaten Les Bleus on 58 occasions, including in the Rugby World Cup semi-finals in 2003 and 2007. 

1992 - Proteas eliminated from Cricket World Cup in farcical fashion

No one does Cricket World Cup semi-final heartache quite like South Africa.

There was the dramatic 1999 tie against Australia that resulted in the Proteas being eliminated due to an inferior net run rate at the Super Six stage. Then, six years ago, Grant Elliott's heroics helped New Zealand reach the final.

But perhaps nothing compares to the farce of 1992, when South Africa fell foul of new rain rules.

When the heavens opened and play was stopped, South Africa needed 22 runs from 13 balls to beat England.

However, when they returned, the implementation of some bizarre rules meant they required an insurmountable 21 off one delivery. The rules were soon scrapped, but that was no shred of comfort to South Africa.

 

2015 - Steven Gerrard sent off 38 seconds after coming on against Manchester United

It was a case of 'Gone in 38 seconds' for Liverpool captain Gerrard five years ago as he made an unforgettable immediate impact.

Shortly after coming on as a half-time substitute in the Premier League match at Anfield, Gerrard stamped on Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera, prompting referee Martin Atkinson to send him off the field moments after he had arrived.

"I need to accept it; the decision was right," Gerrard told Sky Sports after. "I've let down my team-mates and the fans."

United, who were leading 1-0 at the time, claimed a 2-1 victory thanks to Juan Mata's brace.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, chances are you need to look back over the archives if you want to get your daily sporting fix.

Well, we've got you covered for Friday.

March 20 boasts a few notable events throughout sporting history, including a number of Grand Nationals, a heavyweight title fight and the retiring of one of basketball's most famous jerseys.

Here are five of the biggest things to happen in sport on this day...

 

1948 - 50/1 shot mare wins Grand National to end 

The 102nd edition of one of the world's most famous horse races saw Sheila's Cottage, ridden by Arthur Thompson, defy odds of 50/1 to win. She was also the first mare to triumph at Aintree in 46 years and only the 12th in the long and storied history of the steeplechase. Thompson and trainer Neville Trump would record a second win together four years later.

1988 - Mike Tyson knocks out Tyrell Biggs

In Atlantic City, Tyson took on 1984 Olympic gold medallist Tyrell Biggs, who was 15-0 since turning professional and was literally head and shoulders above his opponent, standing at 6 foot 5 compared to Tyson at 5 foot 10.

Still, he was no match for the defending WBA, WBC and IBF champion, who left Biggs bloodied and bruised before sending him crashing to the canvas in round seven. The fight continued but Biggs was knocked down again, leading the referee to halt proceedings and ensure Tyson stretched his record to 32 wins from 32.

1990 - Lakers retire Abdul-Jabbar's jersey

Thirty years ago, the LA Lakers retired the number 33 jersey of Karim Abdul-Jabbar, the man still considered by some to be basketball's greatest.

A six-time NBA champion with the Lakers and the Milwaukee Bucks, a winner of six MVP and two Finals MVP awards and 19 times on the All-Star roster, nobody has worn his number 33 for the Lakers since 1990.

2010 - France clinch grand slam

France won their 17th Five/Six Nations title and completed a ninth grand slam after battling to victory over England in Paris.

Les Bleus had powered through the earlier rounds but were made to work hard by England, who dominated the second half after ending the first 12-7 down but could only earn three more points via the boot of Jonny Wilkinson.

They have not won the championship since.

With precious few sporting events taking place due to the coronavirus, we looked back through sporting history to identify key and major events to take place on this day.

March 18 has proven a busy day down the years, but we have highlighted five particularly memorable or notable occasions.

From the formation of a world-renowned football club, to the suspicious death of a former cricketer, below we have everything you need for a little education, or a trip down memory lane.

 

1900 – Ajax are formed

March 18 is a momentous day not only for Dutch football, but for the entire sport globally. On this day in 1900, Ajax were formed by Floris Stempel (their first chairman), Hen Dade (sports director) and Carel Reeser. Named after the mythological Greek war hero Ajax, most known for fighting against Troy in the Trojan War, the club has since gone on to dominate much of Dutch football history and influenced many of the most famous ideologies and philosophies in the world game.

1942 – Two black players try out for Chicago White Sox

Jackie Robinson is remembered as an iconic baseball player, in more ways than one. Regarded a great for his exploits with the Brooklyn Dodgers, he was also the first black player to break the colour barrier in Major League Baseball in 1947. However, he could have made the move from the 'Negro Leagues' five years earlier, as on March 18, 1942, Robinson and Nate Moreland – who was also black – had a trial with the Chicago White Sox. Manager Jimmy Dykes acknowledged their abilities, but he did not sign either, doubtful the White Sox would allow black players to join.

2000 – England win inaugural Six Nations

The Six Nations has had many forms through the years, initially starting off as a tournament between the British 'Home Nations' and then becoming the Five Nations. It was further expanded to its current guise in 2000 as Italy joined the fold. England won the inaugural Six Nations, thrashing the newcomers 57-12 in Rome – Jonny Wilkinson's kicking and Austin Healey's hat-trick of tries doing the damage.

2007 – Former cricketer and coach Bob Woolmer found dead

On March 18, 2007, one day after his Pakistan team were knocked out of the Cricket World Cup, coach Bob Woolmer was found dead in his hotel room. Initially he was thought to have had a heart attack, only for another pathologist's report to suggest he had been murdered. Further reports proposed health problems contributed to his passing, but a jury later returned an open verdict, unable to rule out the theory Woolmer was strangled. Other prominent former cricketers have since claimed Woolmer did not die of natural causes.

2012 – Panathinaikos v Olympiacos leads to chaos

Those familiar with Greek football – and specifically the rivalries involved – will not be unaware of the problems often seen when Olympiacos and Panathinaikos face each other. In March 2012, the disturbances were particularly serious, as Panathinaikos were losing 1-0 at home to their bitter rivals. The second half was initially delayed by 45 minutes due to fans throwing flares and Molotov cocktails at police, and the contest was eventually abandoned. Twenty police officers were hurt, 50 fans were arrested, three fire engines were required to tackle blazes, and Pana were docked five points on top of having to play four games behind closed doors.

The world's leading sporting competitions have been halted amid the coronavirus pandemic.

With almost 160,000 confirmed cases of the virus and close to 6,000 deaths, athletes across the globe are waiting to learn when they will return to work.

We take a look at the provisional return dates set out so far.
 

BASKETBALL

The NBA came to a sudden stop when a Utah Jazz player - later revealed to be Rudy Gobert - tested positive on Wednesday, and league commissioner Adam Silver warned the hiatus would "be most likely at least 30 days".

CRICKET

International cricket has been pushed back, but there are no firm dates as things stand for rescheduled matches. England's two-match Test tour of Sri Lanka was called off midway through a warm-up match, while the ODI series between India and South Africa was postponed after the first of three matches was washed out. Australia won an opening ODI against New Zealand behind closed doors, but the remaining two 50-over matches were delayed, along with a three-match Twenty20 series. There is at least a provisional date for the Indian Premier League to belatedly start: April 15, pushed back from March 29.

FOOTBALL

European football is at a standstill, with the Champions League among the elite-level competitions suspended. UEFA is set to meet to discuss the future of that tournament and Euro 2020 this week, while FIFA has advised postponements of upcoming international fixtures, for which clubs are no longer required to release their players. The Premier League, LaLiga and Serie A are all paused at least until April 3 although the Bundesliga has only called off one matchweek as things stand, while Ligue 1 is off "until further notice".

GOLF

The PGA Tour initially announced a three-week suspension, with The Players Championship stopped after its opening round. The Masters - won in 2019 by Tiger Woods - was therefore set to mark the Tour's return on April 9, but organisers soon announced the first major of the year would also be postponed. The RBC Heritage on April 16 is the next scheduled tournament. Organisers are planning "regular status updates in the coming weeks" amid "a very fluid situation that requires constant review, communication, and transparency".

MOTORSPORT

The Formula One season is still to start after races in Australia, Bahrain, Vietnam and China were postponed or cancelled. The Dutch Grand Prix on May 3 remains on at this stage, however, while managing director of motorsports Ross Brawn has suggested the calendar could be reshuffled, with races held in August. NASCAR has postponed events in Atlanta and Miami this and next weekend, and all IndyCar Series races through April have been cancelled.

RUGBY

Rugby league has largely been able to continue both in England and in Australia, but the same is not true of rugby union. Six Nations matches were among the first to fall by the wayside amid the crisis in Italy, with the Azzurri seeing matches against both Ireland and England postponed until later in the year. France versus Ireland was off, too, while Scotland's trip to Wales belatedly followed suit. Club action has ground to a halt, with Super Rugby finally paused this weekend and no return imminent.

TENNIS

After Indian Wells and then the Miami Open were cancelled, the ATP Tour announced its suspension up to and including the week of April 20. The WTA Tour preferred to call off individual events, but the schedule is now clear for five weeks. It was still to make a decision on the European clay-court season. The Fed Cup finals and play-offs - set for mid-April - have been pushed back, meanwhile, with the ITF vowing to address any impact the postponement may have on players' eligibility for Tokyo 2020.

OTHERS

Despite chaos surrounding various sports across the globe, Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe says the country is still planning for the Olympic Games in Tokyo to go ahead as scheduled in July. The London Marathon and the Boston Marathon will both still go ahead this year, but with revised dates of October 4 and September 14, respectively. The Giro d'Italia will be postponed and a new date for the race will not be announced until at least April 3 when a decree in Italy banning sport ends. The NBA is not the only American competition to be disrupted, meanwhile, with the 2020 MLB season moved back "at least two weeks" from March 26, and the NHL campaign paused indefinitely.

Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) chairman Gareth Davies believes the right call was made after it was decided to postpone the Six Nations clash with Scotland.

With the British government opting not to ban large events, it seemed as though Wales' encounter with Scotland would go ahead as planned in Cardiff on Saturday.

However, the WRU confirmed on Friday, 24 hours prior to kick-off, that the match would not be played amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"It has been a tough week," said Davies in quotes reported by BBC Sport. "But we believe it was the proper and responsible thing to do."

"I don't think we could've dealt with it any better. We made a decision last night that this match would go ahead. In a very quickly moving world things had changed by late morning today.

"We initially followed the advice of government in terms of the scientific and medical evidence and that was the case up until [Thursday] night.

"We had an emergency board meeting to consider everything and we still thought, bearing in mind the advice we had, that keeping the game on was the way to go.

"Last night the Premier League were carrying on but by this morning that had changed and the EFL went on a similar course, as did the Celtic v Rangers game, in all being called off and other major global events were also being pulled.

"We spoke to the government this morning, who understood our position."

"For us to be the only sporting event to be on, we were mindful of the seriousness of the situation. We took into account supporters, players and staff and asked whether it was essential to subject to that risk."

The sporting calendar over the next few weeks looks extremely bare as events continue to be postponed or cancelled as a result of the threat of the coronavirus.

All of Europe's top five leagues have now been suspended, as the Bundesliga followed Serie A, LaLiga, Ligue 1 and the Premier League in calling a halt to proceedings just hours before its latest round of fixtures was due to kick off.

Golf's first major, the Masters, will not take place on April 9 as initially scheduled, while the Giro d'Italia, the final Six Nations match between Wales and Scotland, and marathons in London and Boston have all been affected by COVID-19, too.

With the number of confirmed cases worldwide now totalling over 140,000, we take a look at the latest round of postponements.

 

After the PGA Tour cancelled all events leading up the Masters, all eyes were on whether the prestigious event at Augusta National Golf Club would be called off until further notice. That news arrived on Friday, with organisers saying it was "appropriate under these unique circumstances".

With around four hours to go before the first Bundesliga game of matchday 26, the league was finally suspended due to the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Germany.

Defender Timo Hubers, who plays for 2. Bundesliga side Hannover, was one of the first players across Europe to test positive for the virus, and Paderborn, who had been due to Fortuna Dusseldorf on Friday night, were waiting on tests results for their players when news came down from the league.

Clubs will meet again on Monday, with the league advising a suspension until April 2.

World Cup qualifiers in Africa were suspended, while European clubs such as Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona have stopped their players from training at their facilities for the time being.

As Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba encouraged people to "dab to beat coronavirus" and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp backed the decision to postpone the Premier League, Serie A clubs Sampdoria and Fiorentina reported positive cases involving their players in Italy, one of the worst-affected countries.

The country's major cycling race, the Giro d'Italia, will not begin as scheduled on May 9 as Hungary said it was unwilling to host the first three stages. The whole race was subsequently postponed.

Six Nations contest between Italy and England in Rome, originally slated for Saturday, had already been called off, and the only fixture of the tournament not to be postponed was put back indefinitely on Friday. Wales' clash with Scotland in Cardiff was finally called off the day before it was set to take place, while Sunday's Premiership Rugby Cup final between Sale Sharks and Harlequins has also been postponed.

South Africa's ODI tour of India will be rescheduled for another time, the first match having been washed out on Thursday, while the Boston Marathon will now take place on September 14. The new date for the London Marathon is October 4.

Elsewhere, NASCAR has postponed races in Atlanta and Miami over the next two weekends. Those races were initially going to be held without fans. All IndyCar Series races through April have been cancelled.

The Six Nations match between Wales and Scotland has been postponed amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Until the decision, Saturday's contest in Cardiff was the only match in round five of the tournament still scheduled to take place this weekend.

The Italy v England and France v Ireland clashes had previously been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and an announcement on Friday from the Welsh Rugby Union confirmed their game would also not go ahead as planned.

"The Welsh Rugby Union has maintained an open dialogue with, and continued to seek advice and direction from, the National Assembly for Wales and other stakeholders, including the Six Nations, on this fast-moving issue," read their statement, which was published 24 hours before kick-off.

"Whilst medical advice remains consistent, we have decided that it is in the best interests of supporters, players and staff to fall in line with recent measures taken across the UK and global sports industries.

"The WRU would like to thank all parties for their counsel on the subject and will make further announcements with respect to rescheduling the fixture in the coming days.

"Every effort has been made to stage this game and we appreciate that individuals will have been inconvenienced. Given the fluid and unprecedented nature of this issue a postponement became the only viable option."

The WRU had earlier said the game was still on, but the landscape changed when a host of other high-profile sporting fixtures for this weekend and beyond were cancelled or postponed amid the spread of coronavirus.

Football has been called off in England, France, Italy and Spain, along with next week's fixtures in the Champions League and Europa League.

The Test series between Sri Lanka and England has been cancelled, while in golf The Players Championship was halted after one round and next month's Masters has been postponed.

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