Six Nations: France v Ireland match called off at last minute

The Six Nations game between France and Ireland was called off 10 minutes before kick-off because of freezing weather at the Stade de France.

Referee Dave Pearson decided that parts of the pitch at the stadium were frozen and not safe for the players and the game will now have to be rearranged.

Ireland coach Declan Kidney told the BBC he agreed with the decision.

"One particular corner of the pitch was dangerous to play on so the referee took the right decision," said Kidney.

"The players were pumped up for it in the dressing room as the protocol of this competition demands that you prepare fully for the game.

"The boys were ready to go but sometimes you have to let your head rule your heart."

Six Nations officials confirmed that the match will now be staged during one of the tournament's break weekends - 18-19 February or 3-4 March - with BBC Sport's Iain Carter reporting that fans have been told to keep their tickets.

Kidney and French coach Philippe Saint-Andre discussed the conditions on the pitch with Pearson half an hour before kick off.

The temperature at kickoff, 2000 GMT, was -5C, with a wind chill of -11C.

The pitch had passed an earlier inspection, but the referee then reversed his decision close to kick-off.

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 because the icy field, which does not have undersoil heating, was too dangerous to play on.

France captain Thierry Dusautoir 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.

It is the first time since 1985 that a Six Nations match has been called off because of adverse weather conditions.

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