Bernard Jackman expects the Six Nations will still go ahead but thinks the competition might take place at a single venue, possibly in France.

European Professional Club Rugby today announced the suspension of the the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup after France's Ministry of Sport said it didn't want clubs to travel to the United Kingdom due to the new strain of coronavirus detected there. 

Munster and Leinster are both still in contention to make the knockout stages of the Champions Cup but the bigger concern for the IRFU will be whether the Six Nations, scheduled to begin on the first weekend of February, will go ahead.

The women's Six Nations, usually played in tandem with the men's event, is expected to be postponed until April or May due to the logistical difficulties posed by most of the teams being amateur. The U20s tournament is also set to be deferred.

"The pro game is on a tightrope at the moment," said Jackman. " I don't think any of us would be overly surprised if we were put into another lockdown with no games.

"I think the Six Nations has a better chance than maybe the Pro14, with its cross-border travel. It’s just six teams in bubbles, and probably easier to micromanage.

"From a French point of view, it’s only one team travelling to Ireland or Italy but with the Champions and Challenge Cups, it’s 14 teams that you’re worried about.

"The biggest thing is to get it played and get that broadcasting money into the game.

"I think the governments will be aware of how important it is financially for the sport in those six countries to play the Six Nations. That's the big cash cow and will hopefully help keep the game alive.

"But it’s very much on tenterhooks at the moment."

The closing stages of soccer's Champions League was played out in Lisbon last summer and a similar approach might yet be taken to ensure Europe's international rugby showpiece can go ahead.

"They have made a suggestion that the Six Nations be played in one country, ironically they’d like it to be played in France, that the six teams would set up camp there for the duration of the tournament and play at one stadium.

"They feel that’s the safest way of doing it. It’s not ideal but there’s no real home advantage this year without a crowd and if that was the only way the competition would go ahead, I don’t think the players or the other unions would stop it."

"It wouldn't be ideal for Ireland and Andy Farrell if they went into the Six Nations with only one game in five weeks"

The postponement of the Champions Cup fixtures will leave Ireland's internationals severely lacking game-time ahead of the scheduled trip to Wales on 7 February.

"A lot of our internationals have only played one round of the interpros over Christmas because of player welfare and the necessary break they get," said Jackman.

"It wouldn’t be ideal for Ireland and Andy Farrell if they went into the Six Nations with only one game in five weeks.

"So there may be a round of Pro14 (moved forward) and the Munster-Leinster game that was postponed on St Stephen’s Day may find a place in the fixture-list, which would be brilliant as it would be full-strength teams, which we haven’t seen for a while in interpros."