World Rugby has decided to cancel this weekend’s World Cup fixtures involving England and New Zealand with typhoon Hagibis set to hit Japan.
Based on the latest detailed information from the tournament’s independent weather experts, Hagibis is predicted to be the biggest typhoon of the 2019 season. It is highly likely to cause considerable disruption in the Tokyo, Yokohama and City of Toyota areas throughout Saturday, including a likely public transport shutdown.
World Rugby has therefore decided to call off Saturday’s fixtures between New Zealand and Italy in Toyota and England and France in Yokohama. As per tournament rules, the games have been declared a draw with teams sharing two points each.
This means that England will top Pool C, with France finishing second in the same pool. Both teams had already secured their places in the World Cup playoffs.
New Zealand, assured of first place in Pool B, will finish with 16 points, while Italy have missed out on the opportunity to secure their place in the quarter-finals as they will finish third with 12 points, just three behind South Africa.
World Rugby has added that every effort is being made to ensure that Sunday’s fixtures go ahead as planned. World Cup hosts Japan are in a crucial clash with Scotland in Yokohama on Saturday, a game which will decide Pool A’s quarter-finalists. A thorough assessment of venues will take place after the typhoon has passed before a final decision is made on Sunday morning.
Saturday’s Pool A match between Ireland and Samoa will go ahead as planned.
The World Cup organising committee has urged fans in the Tokyo, Yokohama and City of Toyota areas to stay indoors on Saturday and not to travel.
‘This is a complex and dynamic situation which we have been monitoring extremely closely with the assistance of our weather information experts,’ tournament organiser Alan Gilpin said. ‘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.’
World Cup fixtures update:
Friday, 11 October:
Pool D match between Australia and Georgia in Shizuoka at 12:15pm to be played as scheduled.
Saturday, 12 October:
Pool A match between Ireland and Samoa in Fukuoka at 12:45pm to be played as scheduled.
Pool B match between New Zealand and Italy to be cancelled.
Pool C match between England and France to be cancelled.
Sunday, 13 October:
Every effort is being made to ensure Sunday’s matches will be played as scheduled. A thorough assessment of venues will take place after the typhoon has passed before a final decision is made on Sunday morning.
Photo: David Rogers – RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images
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