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6 Nations: France-Ireland postponed due to cold

Updated: February 11, 2012, 16:29

SAINT-DENIS, France(AP) Match referee Dave Pearson postponed France's Six Nations match against Ireland moments before kickoff because of freezing weather on Saturday, having passed the field fit for play just two hours earlier.

The temperature at kickoff, 9 p.m. local time in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis, was minus-5 Celsius, with a wind chill of minus-11.

"The pitch was unsafe for the players to play on,'' said Ireland coach Declan Kidney, who agreed with the officials' decision. "It was quite dangerous.''

Christine Connolly, speaking on behalf of the Six Nations organizers, said the decision rested firmly with Pearson.

"The referee came to look at the game last night, the field was covered, and he thought that it was possible to play,'' Connolly said. "He looked at the field again at 1900 and deemed that the field was playable. Unfortunately, in the ensuing two hours he thought that the field was worsened, that it was frozen in several areas and was dangerous and unplayable.''

Kidney expected the match to be played during one of the two weekend breaks in the tournament, either next Saturday or March 3.

Connolly confirmed this would be the case, with a decision possibly as soon as Monday.

Huge jeers rang out at the sold-out Stade de France as the players failed to take to the field, with a marching band in the middle ready to play the national anthems.

The stadium announcer was drowned out by the booing when he informed the crowd the match referee called off the game.

France captain Thierry Dusuatoir then took the microphone to address the fans.

"Thanks to everyone for coming to encourage us tonight, unfortunately the game has been called off,'' Dusautoir said. "I hope you will all come and support us next time. The decision has been taken, and now we will prepare for the next time.''

Both teams went out onto the field to applaud the crowd, which did little to soften the blow.

Kidney admitted the decision had taken the players by surprise.

"The reaction to the guys in the dressing room was 'you're joking me,''' Kidney said. "How do you get that pumped up for a game, you know? International rugby or any professional rugby isn't something where you arrive and you go out for a friendly jog around. But they are great lads and there's a good bit of banter in the dressing room now.''

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