Confirmation came today that all three of the Six Nations games scheduled for this weekend have been postponed. Will the games ever be played? Looking at the calendar it seems doubtful.
Confirmation came today (Tuesday 10th) that France v Ireland in Lille has been postponed due to the Coronavirus. With Italy v England and Wales v Scotland already cancelled there will be no games in the Women’s Six Nations this weekend.
Checking the calendar the conclusion we reach is that if these postponed games cannot take place before the end of May it is unlikely that the 2020 Six Nations will be finished.
Overall the tournament has now lost more than a third - six - of its 15 games to postponement:
Italy v Scotland
Scotland v France
Ireland v Italy
Wales v Scotland
Italy v England
France v Ireland
Finding dates to play all of these games is going to be difficult. Italy and Scotland in particular need to find the better part of a month in the calendar to play their three games.
If Europe has returned to normal before the end of April (which, as things stand, seems optimistic) it might be possible to squeeze to play that month of rugby into May, but after that the calendar gets seriously crowded.
The Olympic Games repechage tournament is due to take place (probably in Biarritz) on 20-21 June, with the European Championship 7s starting the weekend before.
While it will only affect a minority of players it is unlikely that France will want the distraction of playing effectively "dead rubber" Six Nations games in the weeks leading up to this, their last chance to make the Games. At the same time England, Scotland and Wales – who make up the Great Britain team – will also be wanting to use the European Championship (starting 13th June) as preparation for the games as this will be the only opportunity they will have to play together in a competitive tournament.
The Olympics themselves then take place at the end of July, and the beginning of August.
In addition both England and France will be planning summer tours against top four ranked opposition.
Which brings us to September, when Scotland, Ireland and Italy will be involved in Europe’s World Cup qualification tournament throughout the month.
That pushes the games into October and the autumn internationals where England and France again be looking to play top four ranked opposition, and will be unlikely to want to play Scotland, Ireland or Italy, and there is little the 6N Committee could do. As we said at the start of the season, at present the unions set the times and dates of the women's six nations fuxtures, not the 6N Committee.
The only bright light is that at least one of those three will probably be wanting to prepare for the World Cup repechage, which World Rugby has said will take place in “late 2020” (so probably November or December), so Italy v Scotland or Ireland v Italy might be sneaked in here, but not all six games.
And after that we move into preparations for the 2021 Six Nations.
The reality is that the future of the 2020 Six Nations is hanging in there, but only by its fingertips.