Ireland match called off over frozen pitch

Monday 13 February 2012 11.42
Irish coach Declan Kidney said the pitch was unsafe for the players
Irish coach Declan Kidney said the pitch was unsafe for the players

The France versus Ireland Six Nations rugby match was cancelled just minutes before kick-off because of a frozen pitch at the Stade de France.

English referee Dave Pearson informed both teams after efforts to make the pitch playable failed.

"The pitch was unsafe for the players," Ireland coach Declan Kidney said afterwards.

"The pitch was unsafe. The referee had to take the decision and it was tough for one man to do it," he said.

"In fairness it was the right decision. The players were pumped up but it will be a new experience for them."

The referee had passed the pitch 90 minutes before the 8pm Irish time kick-off.

However, the below-zero temperatures had made it rock hard by the time the teams were preparing to come out onto the pitch.

Boos rang out round the packed stadium as it dawned on the 70,000-plus spectators that the match had been called off.

A new date for the fixture was not immediately announced but it is likely to be next weekend.