The Department of Health are currently examining legislation that appears to prevent international sporting fixtures such as the Six Nations and World Cup qualifiers from being played in Ireland.
As Ireland are set to host France in Sunday’s Six Nations games in the Aviva Stadium, the department has confirmed to thethey are scrutinizing the latest amendment to the Health Act pertaining to temporary Covid-19 restrictions.
According to the latest Statutory Instrument 701/2020 regarding restriction of sports events which came into effect on December 30, games can be organised providing "every person participating the event" is "a professional sportsperson who receives payment for training and playing sport under a contract of employment with a soccer club or the rugby football organisation commonly known as referred to as the Irish Rugby Football Union".
The wording of the clause seems to exclude those events that don’t involve players contracted to other countries’ rugby federations or clubs.
Last month, Connacht hosted Ospreys in Galway and they are due to take on Cardiff Blues in the Sportsground next weekend, while Leinster face Glasgow Warriors in the RDS on February 28. Ireland’s final Six Nations game sees them face England in Dublin on March 20.
The Republic of Ireland’s first World Cup 2022 Group A qualifying fixtures at home is against Luxembourg in the Aviva Stadium on March 27.
The IFRU were unaware of any potential issue until the article appeared on thewebsite and confirmed that they are proceeding as planned for the weekend's game at the Aviva Stadium.
The latest development comes as it was clarified to the GAA this week that their inter-county games are no longer permitted under Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions.
Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs and Sport Jack Chambers said the exemption for GAA expired at the end of 2020 with the conclusion of the inter-county senior championships, despite the organisation at the time revealing a return to inter-county training date of January 15 and the start of the Allianz Leagues at the end of this month.