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World Rugby call media briefing amidst fears of cancelled World Cup games

The super typhoon is currently forecast to hit Yokohama and the Tokyo area on Saturday.

INITIALLY, IT HAD appeared that Ireland’s clash with Samoa in Fukuoka was in the greatest danger of being impacted by Super Typhoon Hagibis, but Yokohama and the Tokyo region are now in the projected path of the storm.

As such, a sense of complete confusion has descended at the World Cup around the England v France and Japan v Scotland fixtures due to take place in Yokohama on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

Various reports have suggested the games will be relocated, rescheduled or even cancelled, which would leave the World Cup facing the farcical situation of Pool A – Ireland’s pool – being decided by the weather.

PIC Source: Japan Meteorological Agency

Scotland’s 61-0 win over Russia today left them in the mix to qualify for the quarter-finals from Pool A but a cancelled match on Sunday would result in them sharing a 0-0 draw with Japan, signalling a pool-stage exit for Gregor Townsend’s men in the event that Ireland overcome Samoa on Saturday.

Meanwhile, England and France have already qualified out of Pool C of the World Cup but there is major confusion over the status of their fixture in Yokohama amidst reports that World Rugby are considering shifting it to Oita, on the southern island of Kyushu.

Hagibis – initially a typhoon but now a category 5 super typhoon – is currently forecast to hit the Japanese mainland on Saturday in the Yokohama and Tokyo area, bringing what has been described as “violent” wind and rain.

While the forecasts do suggest that the super typhoon will have moved north by the following day, it’s unclear how much damage to transport infrastructure Hagibis would leave in its wake.

It seems certain that World Rugby will do everything in its power to avoid the calamitous situation of Scotland not even having a chance to play against Japan before being knocked out of the competition.

World Rugby has called a media briefing in Tokyo for midday on Thursday [4am Irish time Thursday], where the governing body has promised “an update relating to the anticipated impact of Typhoon Hagibis on the final round of Rugby World Cup 2019 pool matches.”


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As yet, there has been no official word on what World Rugby’s ‘contingency plans’ are in the event that Hagibis does strike the Japanese mainland this weekend.

new-zealand-v-south-africa-pool-b-2019-rugby-world-cup-international-stadium-yokohama International Stadium Yokohama. Source: Adam Davy

There have been typhoon warnings in Japan before during this World Cup, but none have materialised so far.

The threat of Hagibis is the greatest, however, and current projections say it will reach Japan from its current position in the Western Pacific Ocean.

The hope for World Rugby, of course, is that those projections prove to be wrong again and Hagibis veers well clear of Japan entirely.

For now, the teams involved in fixtures in Yokohama this weekend are waiting on confirmation like the rest of us. 

“When I looked at a weather app this morning, it did look like it was heading into Tokyo this weekend,” said Scotland boss Gregor Townsend after his side’s nine-try win over Russia today.

“It’s a few days away, so it could still miss the Tokyo area.

“We have had contact from World Rugby to say there will be an update over the next 24 to 48 hours.

“I’m sure alternative venues and arrangements are being looked at, not just for our game but other games that could be affected, like England v France in the same stadium on Saturday.”

About the author:

Murray Kinsella  / Reports from Fukuoka

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