Six Nations organisers have confirmed the 2021 Championship will take place in February and March as planned in response to suggestions it could be moved to the summer. 

Ireland are due to play their opening game away to Wales on Sunday 7 February.

The tournament will start with Italy hosting France on 6 February but, with the Lions' tour to South Africa now in doubt because of the escalating coronavirus pandemic, it had been speculated that the Six Nations could be delayed by four months to take advantage of the potential gap in the window. 

With large swathes of the population expected to be vaccinated by the summer, it has been argued there would be scope for crowds to attend, helping financially stricken unions. 

But the tournament is set to go ahead in its customary window, unless disruption is caused by Covid-19. 

"The Six Nations is planning for the tournament to go ahead as scheduled, but we are monitoring the situation with the unions and their respective governments and health authorities," a spokesperson said. 


SIX NATIONS 2021 FIXTURES


England expected the launch of their title defence against Scotland at Twickenham on 6 February to proceed as anticipated. 

"We are committed to the fixtures and monitoring the situation with all parties. Planning continues aligned with current guidelines," the Rugby Football Union said. 

For the Six Nations to be moved to the summer, the Lions' tour would have to be cancelled as soon as possible, but managing director Ben Calveley on Saturday set a deadline of February for a conclusion to the crunch talks over its viability. 

Underlining the difficulty facing the Lions on the issue of whether to proceed is Monday's admission by UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock that he is "very worried" about the South African variant of Covid-19. 

The mutation is thought to be more transmissible than the new UK strain and more resistant to the vaccines, resulting in all flights from South Africa to these shores being banned.

Scarlets' game against Toulon was called off shortly before it was due to kick off

Meanwhile, European rugby organisers have said they have met with the medical experts from the various competitions and will revise their Covid-19 protocols. 

In the wake of Bayonne announcing they would boycott their remaining games in the Challenge Cup and rumours about Toulon withdrawing from the Champions Cup, the EPCR confirmed that "no club participating in the Heineken Champions Cup or Challenge Cup has officially informed EPCR of any intention not to fulfil their remaining fixtures in the 2020/21 season.

It added: "Key topics discussed included testing schedules, contact tracing and case management, matchday risk assessment, cross-border travel and protocol compliance, and the Medical Advisory Group also received independent input from leading Swiss-based physician and virologist, Dr Daniel Koch, during what was a productive [video call] meeting." 

Details and outcomes from the meeting will be released in due course.  

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