Ireland's World Cup qualifiers are in doubt after Rugby Europe postponed all of its fixtures due to take place between now and the end of November.

These include fixtures planned as part of the qualifying process for next year's tournament in New Zealand, which is set to be the first time the competition will take place in the southern hemisphere.

Ireland have to qualify for the World Cup after their eighth-placed finish in 2017.

In December they were due to play Italy, Scotland, and the winners of the Rugby Europe Women's Championship to decide who would take the final place available to European teams. That competition, involving Russia, Spain, and the Netherlands, has now been suspended.

The World Cup is due to begin on 18 September next year, so a slot will have to be found to confirm the European qualifier before then.

"Despite the creation of Return to Play Protocol, we have to suspend our competitions to preserve the health of our players and our officials who are mostly 'amateurs'," said Octavian Morariu, President of Rugby Europe.

"We cannot expose them to the virus or to quarantine periods that would be problematic for them. We still have to be patient before we can organise our competitions in the best conditions."

Meanwhile, World Rugby has confirmed that the draw for the 2021 World Cup will take place next month in Auckland.