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Merthyr Tydfil rugby club could lose £10,000 over cancelled trip to Italy as coronavirus outbreak continues

Cefn Coed Rugby club could lose up to £10,000 Credit: Cefn Coed RFC

A Welsh rugby club stand to lose up to £10,000 after pulling out of plans to face an Italian side this week due to fears over coronavirus.

Cefn Coed RFC were due to send 40 people - 24 youth players aged 16 to 18, five coaches and parents - to Verona for a friendly with Serie A side Valpolicella.

The group were set to depart from Gatwick on Friday with plans to play the friendly before sightseeing in Verona and visiting Lake Garda.

But the Merthyr Tydfil club, who have been planning the trip for almost six months, could lose thousands of pounds spent on flights, accommodation and transfers as there is no official advice telling them not to travel.

Flights from the UK to Italy are operating normally as airlines rely on advice from the Foreign Office to tell them whether or not it is safe to continue.

Official advice from the UK Government's Foreign Office website notes the ''extraordinary measures'' from the Italian government in response to coronavirus cases in the country - putting towns in northern regions Veneto and Lombardy into effective quarantine - but it does not warn against travelling.

Kevin Driscoll says the Italian club have told them not to come Credit: ITV Wales

''We have a long-standing connection with the club,'' youth team manager Kevin Driscoll said.

''They phoned on Sunday and said there's a big problem. We've been twiddling our thumbs to see if they will stop the flights.

''The army are on the streets, anything to do with youngsters playing, they've cancelled. They told me they've closed the schools, libraries, shops.

''Until the government says that we can't go there, the flight goes ahead as planned. They won't refund us then. Until the government says no, we can't claim anything back.''

The coach says they have been trying to transfer accommodation and flights to another time of year, but have been told it's not possible if they are not being advised to travel.

The rugby club were due to travel to Italy on Friday

A statement on easyJet's website on Tuesday said: "We are aware that the Italian authorities are taking some additional measures in response to cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.

"There is currently no change to advice for airlines, so our flights are operating as normal and standard terms and conditions on tickets continue to apply.

"We would like to reassure customers that our existing policies and procedures are in line with the guidance provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and EASA. We remain in regular contact with them and will amend our procedures if and when required if guidance changes.

"The health and wellbeing of our passengers and crew is the airline’s highest priority."