England Rugby World Cup clash against France cancelled as Typhoon Hagibis approaches Japan
10 October 2019, 08:27
England’s rugby group decider against France has been cancelled as Super Typhoon Hagibis approaches Japan.
The World Cup match, which was set to be played in Yokohama, was abandoned because of the violent storm.
Both Pool C teams will now take two points, with New Zealand’s game against Italy in Toyota City also cancelled.
The storm has the capacity to cause widespread destruction around the Tokyo region, with satellite images showing it shows no sign of decreasing in magnitude.
It dwarfs Typhoon Faxai which brought Tokyo to a standstill for the day of England's arrival in Japan, delaying their exit from Narita Airport by six hours and leaving a million homes without power, killing three people and injuring scores more.
Scotland’s game against Japan is under review, with the Scots being automatically eliminated while the tournament hosts reach the quarter-finals for the first time if it does not go ahead.
#TyphoonHagibis continues to head towards #Japan, with a likely landfall towards #Tokyo this Saturday.— Met Office (@metoffice) October 9, 2019
This will bring heavy #rain, very strong winds and large waves to the area @F1 #F1JAPANESEGP #RugbyWorldCup @rugbyworldcup pic.twitter.com/61zwLme8vO
The Scottish Rugby Union has released a statement demanding the match be played under contingency plans.
World Cup tournament director Alan Gilpin stated that the governing body's hand was forced by the danger posed by the Category 5 super typhoon, which is on course to hit mainland in the early hours of Saturday.
"Based on this morning's advice, Hagibis is predicted to be the biggest of 2019 and highly likely to cause disruption in the Yokohama, Tokyo and Toyota area, including public transport shutdown," Gilpin said.
"As a result of this independent advice, we have taken the difficult and right decision in the affected areas.
"As you can imagine the decision has not been taken lightly and is in the best interest of safety as a priority.
"All fans will receive full refunds. We are continuing to review Sunday's matches and making sure they are played as scheduled.
"Assessment will be made after the typhoon has passed. We are advising all fans in Toyota, Yokohama and Tokyo to stay inside on Saturday.
"We looked pretty exhaustively at all the options. Important to note is that where we are is in accordance with what we said we would do before the tournament.
"Moving teams round on this scale and being able to deliver safely the exit of 12 teams....we couldn't guarantee contingency plans consistently. If we can't do it for all, we can't do it for any."
Despite World Rugby’s attempts to move the game to Oita - the setting for England's quarter-final - it proved logistically impossible.
England are now heading to Miyazaki - the setting for their pre-tournament camp which is on the same island as Oita - knowing they and France had already qualified for the last eight.
Manager Eddie Jones said: "I think the Japanese have a saying - shogun-hi - we cant control it. It's not something you can control. This is the situation.
"I think it's a wonderful World Cup. You can't help typhoons, we would all like to think we've got the power above and beyond what's on the world at the moment, but we don't and these things happen and you just ride with it.
"We are excited about the prospect of having great preparation for the quarter-final now.
"We've got 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. So someone is smiling on us - the typhoon gods maybe?"