How coaches, players and pundits reacted to the news that England v France and New Zealand v Italy had been called off due to Typhoon Hagibis

Reaction to cancellation of Rugby World Cup games

For the first time in Rugby World Cup history matches have been cancelled. With Typhoon Hagibis set to hit Japan on Saturday, World Rugby announced that England v France (Yokohama) and New Zealand v Italy (Toyota) would be called off amid safety concerns, while Sunday matches, including the crucial Japan v Scotland tie, remain under threat depending on the damage caused by the severe weather.

So how did coaches, players and pundits react to the news? It’s fair to say opinions have been mixed…

England coach Eddie Jones

“Of course, everyone is disappointed we are not to play France and we put in a lot of work – emotional, physical and tactical – but we don’t control the situation and World Rugby has made a decision and we have no issue with it.

“It’s not something you can control. I think it is a wonderful World Cup and you cannot help typhoons. We all like to think we have power above and beyond but we don’t and you just ride with them.

cancellation of Rugby World Cup games

On the move: Eddie Jones and England have left Tokyo for Miyazaki (Getty Images)

“We are excited about the prospect of having great preparation for the quarter-final now. We did get some leeway over the next three days and so we are off to Miyazaki for a short pre-season camp and then we are off to Oita.

“Who would have thought we would have two relatively easy games, one tough game and then two weeks to prepare for a quarter-final? Someone is smiling on us. The typhoon gods maybe.”

Italy captain Sergio Parisse

“It is difficult to know that we won’t have the chance to play a match against one of the great teams. If New Zealand needed four or five points against us it would not have been cancelled.

“It is ridiculous that a decision of this nature has been made because it isn’t like the fans arrived yesterday. It is ridiculous that there was no Plan B, because it isn’t news that typhoons hit Japan.

cancellation of Rugby World Cup games

Frustrated: Sergio Parisse will not get to face the All Blacks on Saturday (Getty Images)

“Sure, everyone might think that Italy versus New Zealand being cancelled counts for nothing because we’d have lost anyway, but we deserved to be respected as a team.

“We had the chance to play in a big stadium, against a great team. The alternative is Plan B. When you organise a World Cup you should have one in place. If New Zealand needed the points, it wouldn’t have been cancelled.”

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen

“You could look at it as a negative or positive thing; we’re choosing to look at it as a positive. It now gives us more time.

“Clearly, this is our biggest tournament. So is it frustrating? Of course it is, but the reality is we can’t control the weather. Do we charge on and put people’s lives at risk or do we lead and make a decision that’s around making sure people are safe? It’s a no-brainer. The man from America could even have made this decision.

cancellation of Rugby World Cup games

Point made: Steve Hansen says the decision to cancel games is a “no-brainer” (Getty Images)

“If we’d had a choice, we would have rather played Friday but it wasn’t our choice, it was out of our control. We have to back World Rugby’s decision and if other teams miss out, it’s unfortunate.

“If you want to be really ruthless, then it’s all about making sure you win the games on the way through because everyone knew this could be a possibility. That’s pretty hard-nosed, though, because I know if we were in their (Italy’s) situation, we’d be disappointed not to have the opportunity to get there.

“It’s always a risk at this time of year with the typhoons, but this is when we play the Rugby World Cup. If you play it earlier, you run the risk of people dying on the footy field because it’ll be 40 degrees. If you play it later, then that’s when we are finished for Christmas so you’d have Santa Claus giving us the World Cup.”

There were also mixed reactions on Twitter from former players and journalists to the news…

Keep track of all the news from Japan via our Rugby World Cup home page.

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