The Women’s Six Nations has been postponed until as late as April due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Tournament organisers were forced to move the tournament from the traditional February and March window and have now pencilled it in for May and April.
The English champions are the only fully professional side, with France semi-professional and the rest of the teams mostly amateur, which has created difficulties over testing and bubbles for the teams as lockdowns remain in place across Europe.
Many of the players also need to return to their jobs because of this, alongside the pandemic, as many are key and frontline workers.
CEO of Six Nations Rugby Limited Ben Morel said: “We are fiercely committed to the promotion and development of rugby at all levels, particularly the women’s game where we see such exciting opportunity for growth.
“This is not a decision that we rushed into and we are confident that in looking at a new later window, we will be in a far stronger position to deliver two fantastic tournaments, delivering exciting rugby for fans, and ensuring the safest possible environment in which to stage them for our players.”
A schedule for the Women’s Six Nations is said to be released by the end of January.
However, organisers have also said that the plans for the men’s tournament, which is due to start on the 6 February “remain as scheduled”, despite France facing a possible travel ban from their government.
Organisers are attempting to convince the French authorities that the tournament can be played safely as they remain concerned over the growing number of Covid-19 cases in the UK and Ireland.
French authorities have already banned French clubs from playing in European competitions this month.
The opening round one fixtures are supposed to see Ireland against France, followed by England versus Scotland.