Typhoon forces first-ever cancellation of RWC matches
published : 10 Oct 2019 at 10:45
TOKYO: Rugby World Cup organisers have cancelled Saturday's game between England and France as well as New Zealand's match against Italy due to the risk from Typhoon Hagibis, and said Sunday's key game between hosts Japan and Scotland is in doubt.
It is the first time a World Cup match has been cancelled since the tournament started in 1987.
The 1995 semi-final between hosts South Africa and France was delayed by an hour due to a waterlogged pitch, but famously went ahead after a team of cleaning ladies took to it with brooms.
The sport's governing body World Rugby and tournament officials said at a news conference on Thursday the decision had been taken due to the disruption expected from the typhoon.
The fierce tropical storm, predicted to be one of the most violent to hit the region in recent years, is expected to strike the Tokyo area this weekend.
England and France have already booked a spot in the quarter-finals but the decision to cancel Italy's match eliminates them from contention. An unlikely win over the All Blacks in Toyota could have taken the Italians through.
With hosts Japan and Scotland still locked in battle for a place in the knockout round any decision to cancel that game will have a huge impact on the final placings - that is likely to be taken on the day of the game.
Tournament rules state that any pool game that cannot be played is not rescheduled and instead is recorded as a 0-0 draw, giving each team two points, with no bonus points available.
If Japan's match in Yokohama is cancelled the hosts would go into the quarter-finals for the first time.
Super typhoon Hagibis, which was swirling some 490 kilometres south-southwest of Japan's Chichijima island on Thursday morning, is heading north toward Japan's main island and could make landfall on Saturday, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.
With the cancellation of Saturday's game, England are confirmed as the winners of Pool C and will play the runners-up in Pool D, which is likely to be Australia.
France are set to face probable Pool D winners Wales.