With a super typhoon set to hit Japan hard, World Rugby have cancelled two World Cup pool fixtures – and uncertainty remains over the critical Scotland-Japan match
England and New Zealand matches called off as Japan braces for Typhoon Hagibis
With the super typhoon Hagibis set to hit Japan this weekend, two World Cup fixtures have been cancelled. England v France, in Yokohama, and Italy v New Zealand, in Toyota, have been called off. The games go down as a 0-0 draw and the sides are awarded two points each.
England thus progress as winners of Pool C, two points ahead of France in second place, and face a probable quarter-final against Australia, with Wales expected to top Pool D and therefore play the French.
As it stands, Scotland v Japan in Yokohama will go ahead as planned on Sunday, but organisers and local authorities will wait until six hours before kick-off before deciding whether the game will be played, if it should be contested behind closed doors or if it will be cancelled. If the fixture cannot be played it too will result in a 0-0 draw.
The Pool D match between Australia and Georgia in Shizuoka on Friday and the Pool A match between Ireland and Samoa in Fukuoka on Saturday will go ahead as planned.
If Scotland’s match was to be called off, Gregor Townsend’s side would be denied the opportunity to leapfrog Japan in the table and so would be eliminated from the World Cup, assuming Ireland don’t slip up the day before.
Whilst recognising that public safety is paramount, the Scottish Rugby Union said: “Scottish Rugby fully expects contingency plans to be put in place to enable Scotland to contest for a place in the quarter-finals on the pitch and will be flexible to accommodate this.”
Hagibis is reportedly two-and-a-half times the size of Typhoon Faxai, which last month claimed three lives and caused $443m worth of damage in Greater Tokyo.
World Rugby and the Japan Rugby 2019 Organising Committee are advising fans in the Tokyo, Yokohama and City of Toyota areas to stay indoors on Saturday, not to travel and to keep monitoring the official Rugby World Cup 2019 digital and social channels, including the RWC 2019 Fan Information Twitter handle @Japan2019_ENG for regular updates.
Alan Gilpin, World Rugby’s chief operating officer and tournament director, said today: “This is a complex and dynamic situation which we have been monitoring extremely closely with the assistance of our weather information experts. We are now in a position to accurately predict the likely impact of Typhoon Hagibis on Rugby World Cup fixtures this weekend.
“While making every possible effort to put in place a contingency plan that would enable all of Saturday’s matches to be played, it would be grossly irresponsible to leave teams, fans, volunteers and other tournament personnel exposed during what is predicted to be a severe typhoon.
“As a result, we have taken the decision to cancel some matches in order to ensure the safety of all involved. It is the right thing to do and comes with the support of all stakeholders, including the teams.
“We fully appreciate that England, France, New Zealand and Italy fans will be disappointed, but we trust they will appreciate that their safety must come first. They will be entitled to a full refund on their match tickets.
“Our message for all fans in Japan for Rugby World Cup is to heed all official advice, stay indoors throughout Saturday and do not attempt to travel on the day.”
Hagibis is predicted to be the biggest typhoon of the 2019 season and is highly likely to cause considerable damage and disruptions, including public transport shutdowns, in the Tokyo, Yokohama and City of Toyota areas throughout Saturday. Train operators in the Greater Tokyo area have stated they will use their social media channels and websites to issue updates, if any services are cancelled.
It is believed the typhoon will come close to, or arrive in, eastern Japan before moving north over Saturday and Sunday. It is also thought that surges will occur in the waters along the Pacific coast of Japan on Friday.