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England-France could be played behind closed doors

By PA Authors
By Online Editors

England’s crunch Rugby World Cup Pool match with France could be played behind closed doors if it is not cancelled altogether.

Scotland’s crucial match with hosts Japan is also set to effected by superstorm Typhoon Hagibis – aka Typhoon Haggis – which is approaching the island nation and is expected to make landfall this weekend.

French media are reporting that the matches between the four sides are to be cancelled altogether. This move would see each game deemed a draw by World Rugby, with each side receiving two points each.

This would see Japan qualify as top of Pool A, with Ireland coming in second if they secure no less than a losing bonus point versus Samoa in Fukuoka.

England and France sharing two points would see both qualify for the quarter-finals, with England going through as the winner of Pool C.

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Meanwhile a number of English newspapers are writing that the England-France game could be moved to Oita on the island of Kyushu if it isn’t cancelled.

RugbyPass understands that the games will not be cancelled, but rather played behind closed doors in yet to be decided venues, a move that is set to be confirmed on Thursday.

It would see unprecedented scenes with Rugby World Cup matches being played in empty venues with no fans present. Both roofed stadiums – Oita and Kobe – would be potentially free to host the games.

World Rugby is set to make an announcement on Thursday outlining its contingency plans. They will host a press briefing at 12:00 on October 10 to provide “an update relating to the anticipated impact of Typhoon Hagibis on the final round of Rugby World Cup 2019 pool matches this weekend”.

Gregor Townsend fears Scotland may be forced to find an alternative venue for Sunday’s make-or-break World Cup showdown with Japan as Typhoon Hagibis prepares to batter Yokohama.

Hagibis has escalated from a tropical storm into a category five super typhoon with winds reaching 180mph. Experts says it has undergone one of the most dramatic intensifications of any tropical cyclone since records began.

The storm is many times the dimensions of Typhoon Faxai, which brought Tokyo to a standstill last month, left three dead and a million homes without power.

Now Townsend – whose side must beat Japan to claim a place in the quarter-finals – is waiting to hear what move the tournament organisers will take.

“I checked the weather app (on Wednesday morning), about eight hours ago, and it did look like it was heading into Tokyo this weekend unless it has changed since then,” said the head coach said after his side’s rout of Russia.

“It is a few days away and it could miss the Tokyo area, or it could still go there and obviously we’ll be getting updates from World Rugby in the next two days as to what the contingencies are.

“We’ve had contact to say there will be an update over the next 24 to 48 hours, so I’m sure that alternative venues and arrangements are being looked at not just for our game but the other games that could be affected by it. England and France play in the same stadium the night before.

“I know it was getting looked at for the Ireland game as well when the forecast was that it was going to Fukuoka.”

– Additional reporting PA

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England-France could be played behind closed doors