Rugby-Italians lose ground for SAfrica match after soccer switch
MILAN, Sept 9 |
MILAN, Sept 9 (Reuters) - Italy have been forced to move November's test with South Africa from Florence to Udine after a late switch caused a clash with a Fiorentina soccer match, the Italian rugby federation said on Wednesday.
The game against the world champions, one of three home November tests for Italy, had long been scheduled for Saturday Nov. 21 at Florence's Stadio Franchi and tickets had already gone on sale.
However, the Italian soccer league last week switched Florence-based Fiorentina's game with Parma to the Saturday from the Sunday to give the hosts extra time to prepare for their Nov. 24 Champions League home clash with Olympique Lyon.
The league made the switch without checking if the ground would be available.
"In light of the situation that has recently developed, we decided to opt for a different venue to Florence," rugby federation president Giancarlo Dondi said in a statement.
"The wish to use Florence as a venue for Italy's future autumn internationals remains. Fans with tickets will be able to obtain refunds or convert the tickets for use at the new venue. I want to thank the Udine authorities for their help."
Officials rejected the idea of playing the test on the Sunday because the already poor state of the Franchi pitch would have made it difficult in any case to play two soccer matches and a rugby game within four days.
Italy failed in bids to host the 2015 or 2019 rugby World Cup where a number of soccer stadiums would have been used.
Nick Mallett's side host New Zealand at Milan's San Siro on Nov. 14 when there is no risk of a clash with the city's soccer clubs. They also face Samoa in Ascoli on Nov. 28. (Reporting by Mark Meadows; Editing by Ossian Shine; To query or comment on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org)
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