England’s Rugby World Cup match against France has been called off because of Super Typhoon Hagibis, while Scotland’s match against Japan remains in doubt.
The tropical storm, predicted to be one of the most violent in recent years, is expected to pass over Tokyo on Saturday, with the International Stadium Yokohama – where England’s game was scheduled to take place – directly in its path.
The Pool B match between New Zealand and Italy in the city of Toyota has also been called off with both games recorded as a 0-0 draws, giving the teams two points, with no bonus points available.
World Rugby said every possible effort had been put into a contingency plan, but that it would be grossly irresponsible to leave teams, fans, volunteers and other tournament personnel exposed during what is predicted to be a severe typhoon.
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, said World Rugby tournament director Alan Gilpin.
They will be entitled to a full refund on their match tickets.
England and France have already booked a spot in the quarter-finals but the decision to cancel Italy’s match with the holders ends their slim hopes of making the last eight.
It means England finish top of Pool C, and will almost certainly meet Australia in the quarter-finals while France will face Wales barring a shock loss for Warren Gatland’s men against Uruguay. The All Blacks will now finish at the top of their pool on 15 points, ahead of South Africa.
It is the first time in the Rugby World Cup’s 32-year history that any game has had to be cancelled.
Scotland ‘fully expect’ Japan match to go ahead
Sunday’s key game between hosts Japan and Scotland remains in doubt – and with both teams still able to qualify any decision to cancel that game will have a huge impact on the final placings.
If the match in Yokohama is cancelled the hosts would go into the quarter-finals for the first time, while Scotland would be eliminated.
A decision will be taken on the day of the game.
We are in regular dialogue with World Rugby at all levels to work to ensure our fixture against Japan on Sunday can be played as planned, a Scottish Rugby statement said. Public safety is the clear priority.
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.
Jones: We’re not concerned – we’re excited
England head coach Eddie Jones has no issue with the decision, which leaves his side with two weeks to prepare for their quarter-final match.
We’re not concerned at all, we’re excited, absolutely excited, he said.
Who would have thought we’d 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.
The Japanese have a saying – shikata ga nai – ‘we can’t control it’.