The Irish Rugby Football Union today postponed this month's series of Guinness Interprovincial Championship games following advice from their director of fitness.
Newly crowned Celtic League champions Leinster were due to take on Connacht while beaten finalists Munster were scheduled to play Ulster in Belfast on the weekend of December 28 and 29.
But the success enjoyed by the provinces in the Celtic League and European Cup competitions as well as the heavy autumn international schedule has taken a severe toll on the players this season.
Director of fitness Dr Liam Hennessy has advised the IRFU that the best possible preparation for the Irish provinces and the national squad for the next phase of the season in Europe and the Six Nations Championship is a period of rest, recovery and maintenance over the next two weeks.
The IRFU will announce new dates for the interprovincial championship matches, which will decide qualification for the 2002/2003 Heineken Cup, on Thursday.