England's Six Nations matches in Italy the weekend after next have been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak in Italy ©Getty Images

England's Six Nations games against Italy on March 14 and 15 have been postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Six Nations officials made the decision to reschedule the fixtures after the Italian government’s announcement this week that all sporting fixtures in the country will be held behind closed doors until April 3.

Organisers say the men's, women's and under-20 contests will be played at "a later date", adding: "Six Nations fully intends to complete all 15 games in all three championships when time allows."

Meanwhile, Munster and Connacht have become the latest teams involved in the Pro14 competition to have upcoming fixtures against Italian teams postponed as their respective matches against Benetton on March 21 and Zebre on March 28 have been affected.

Discussions are still ongoing regarding the rescheduling of the previously postponed fixtures of Zebre versus Ospreys and Benetton versus Ulster, RTE reports.

The Pro14 said it has "taken this action in order to protect the wellbeing of our participating clubs’ players, other staff and supporters, and provide some degree of certainty in an evolving situation.”

Ireland's Six Nations games at home to Italy, scheduled for this weekend, were postponed last week on the advice of the Irish Government.

Italy is currently the European country most affected by the coronavirus outbreak ©Getty Images
Italy is currently the European country most affected by the coronavirus outbreak ©Getty Images

Italy is the European country currently worst affected by the outbreak, with more than 3,000 cases having been recorded.

Playing the men's match behind closed doors would have meant the Italian Rugby Federation missing out on the ticket revenues from the 73,000-capacity Stadio Olimpico.

The women's match was due to be played at the Stadio Plebiscito, a venue in Padua which holds about 10,000.

"We will refrain from making any rescheduling announcements while we keep assessing the situation," added organisers.

"Based on the information that is currently available, all other Six Nations matches are set to go ahead as scheduled."

France, who have won all three of their games so far, have it in their power to secure the men's Grand Slam before Italy play their postponed games.

But if the French falter, the destination of the championship could await Italy’s re-scheduled matches.

Spectators who booked through the official travel company to watch England’s scheduled matches in Italy have been offered three options - rescheduling their booking for the revised date, switching to an alternative fixture in the autumn or next year's Six Nations or receiving a full refund.