England coach Eddie Jones has warned the typhoon sweeping across Asia could have a major disruption on the World Cup in Japan but says he has contingency plans in place to deal with it.
Typhoon Faxai moved north-west over the Pacific towards eastern Japan on Saturday, threatening to make landfall near Tokyo as early as Sunday night, the Japan meteorological agency said.
England are due to leave for Japan on Sunday and the season’s 15th typhoon – packing winds of up to 180 kilometers per hour – is expected to reach coastal areas of the Kanto region between late Sunday and early Monday.
Tournament organisers have planned for the possibility of having to relocate teams from their bases or even to move matches to different venues.
The stadiums for England’s first two games, against Tonga in Sapporo and the United States in Kobe, have roofs and Jones says the team will train indoors on artificial turf if necessary.
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“It’s going to affect the World Cup, there’s no doubt about it,” Jones said after his side’s 37-0 win over Italy in England’s final warm-up match in Newcastle.
“You’ve just got to ride with it, be adaptable and work out how you can cope with the situation. Once the typhoon comes, you just can’t go outside. It’s basically a lockdown. It can vary between being very violent to quite mild.
“The issue is you can’t go outside but we’ve got ideas of what we do if a typhoon stopped us training outdoors. We’ll train on artificial turf indoors.”
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After playing four warm-up matches on dry pitches, Jones is preparing for a marked change in conditions.
Jones – who has a Japanese-American mother and is married to Hiroko Jones, a Japanese woman he met while teaching in Sydney – is familiar with the potential perils, having lived for long periods in Japan.
He twice coached club teams in Japan before being appointed in 2012 as head coach of the national team ahead of the 2015 World Cup.
‘I’d seen arguably one of the worst things, watching your mother die. I went, ‘Right, what is the worst thing that can happen if I make a mistake on the rugby pitch?’
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“South Africa played Japan (on Friday) and it was very hot and very humid,” he said. “There was a lot of dropped ball, it was quite greasy and that could increase the amount of kicking.”
England made hard work of what should have been a straightforward win over the Azzurri on Friday night.
They led only 9-0 at half-time thanks to three penalty goals from captain Owen Farrell but Jones rung the changes and his team responded with four second-half tries from Joe Marchant, Ellis Genge, Ben Youngs and Anthony Watson.
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“It was perfect for us,” Jones said. “Our first two games are against two countries where you can go into the game with a mindset that you’re going to win the game.
“You’ve got to apply yourself 100 per cent and sometimes it’s hard to do. We learned against Italy what happens when you don’t apply yourself.
“In the first half we were scrappy. We were ahead 9-0 and they are one lucky bounce from a try. We changed our whole approach in the second half and I was really pleased with how the players reacted, so it was a great exercise for us.”
Jones added he has “a pretty good idea” of his best team but is resigned to being without Mako Vunipola until the end of the pool stages after the loosehead prop suffered a setback with his hamstring injury.
“He’s as important as the other two looseheads,” Jones said. “We want him back in the mix but we’re prepared to wait and be patient with him. He’s obviously a senior guy, who is good on the field but also great off the field. That is why he is so important for us.”
Joe Launchbury (back) and Luke Cowan-Dickie (knee) also sustained knocks during the game at St James’ Park but Jones is confident they will be fit for the start of the tournament. “We purposely took them off early and were not going to take any risks,” he said. “We don’t feel at this stage they are serious injuries.”
– Press Association
WATCH: The RugbyPass trailer for the soon-to-be-released behind the scenes documentary with Tonga as they prepare for their 2019 World Cup campaign
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