The most controversial Rugby World Cup of all time just took another dramatic turn as World Rugby announced midday on Thursday that it will cancel two World Cup fixtures as Super Typhoon Hagibis prepares to hit major cities in Japan.
“World Rugby and the Japan Rugby 2019 Organising Committee have taken the difficult, but right decision to cancel matches in the affected areas on safety grounds. The impacted teams have been informed and are understanding,” World Rugby explained in a statement.
“For matches that do not go ahead as scheduled, two points will be awarded to each team in line with tournament rules.
The Super Typhoon bearing down on Japan is likely to be the strongest on the planet this year, with fears of extensive damage much like Typhoon Jebi which hit Japan in September last year.
“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 and is highly likely to cause considerable disruption in the Tokyo, Yokohama and City of Toyota areas throughout Saturday.”
The two matches in question are Saturday’s fixtures beween New Zealand and Italy in Toyota, and England and France in Yokohama. A decision on the crunch Pool A game between Japan and Scotland is yet to be made.
The cancellations will have major ramifications on how teams are ranked heading into next weekend’s quarterfinals.
Saturday 12 October
— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) October 10, 2019
The decision to cancel games for the first time in the tournament’s history has immediately put the spotlight on World Rugby’s contingency planning and the timing of the World Cup during Japan’s typhoon season.
Fans vented on Twitter to express their outrage, asking World Rugby to ‘take a bow’ as the tournament reaches new levels of ridiculousness. Many asked why a weather event of this likelihood couldn’t have been predicted in advance and contingency plans made to relocate games.
This RWC is becoming an absolute joke. Not only is the officiating a shambles now they have no contingency plans for typhoon disruption during typhoon season. World Rugby take a bow this is a new level of ridiculousness. #RWC2019 #Japan #TyphoonHagibis #SCOvJAP #scotland
— Tukeke (@Tukeke70) October 10, 2019
— los (@kalolegz) October 10, 2019
— The Supreme Meme, Esq. ?? (@mylifeisanmeme) October 10, 2019
World Rugby have a lot of questions to answer – why not move games indoors? Delay by a day? If toss up betw tight turnaround for the next game and being out of the World Cup, surely players would take the former? If stadiums damaged by typhoon, play without supporters? #RWC2019
— Niall Paterson (@skynewsniall) October 10, 2019
— ?????? (@franksting) October 10, 2019
Safety is obviously the paramount concern. Hosting a world cup during the worst part of Japan's typhoon season was stupid and always had high potential to cause issues, but obviously @WorldRugby can't foresee that. Football WC would never have this and FIFA are a joke #RWC2019
— Liam Devine (@liamdevine27) October 10, 2019
Ach it's alright lads, it's not like holding a world cup in a country in the strongest part of their typhoon season and thus having it threatened by that was an event you could have predicted. #RWC2019
— Liam Devine (@liamdevine27) October 10, 2019
Obviously the most important thing is for everyone in Japan to be safe… but why was a big sporting tournament organised smack in the middle of typhoon season? And with no contingency plans/wriggle room in place in case matches were affected? #RWC2019
— Pamela Paterson (@Pamelatte14) October 10, 2019
If questions weren’t being asked already they certainly will be now about the decision to host the #RWC2019 in Japan during typhoon season, first ever time a match has had to be cancelled let alone two with the potential for more #RugbyWorldCup
— Caoimhe (@Quebha) October 10, 2019
— fiona_m (@allblackgal4eva) October 10, 2019
A tournament in the midst of typhoon season? great call World Rugby. #RWC2019
— Nick Brown (@TheNickCRBrown) October 10, 2019
The Typhoon could yet cause major problems for Scotland whose lifeline to the quarter-finals depends on beating Japan on Sunday. Should the match be cancelled and the two teams share the competition points, they will be sent home.
With the most cards in history already becoming the primary talking point of the World Cup, the full impact of Typhoon Hagibis could make this the worst World Cup in history from a spectating point of view.
However upset the fans might be, the threat to those on the ground during the weather event is very real. Fans are cautioned to listen to safety instructions after last year’s Typhoon Jebi caused USD$15 billion worth of damage and led to 11 deaths as the second-costliest Typhoon in history
This was the powerful typhoon that hit Osaka last year. It was 400 km in diameter.
Hagibis is 1,400 km in diameter.
— Rich Freeman (@FreemanrugbyJPN) October 10, 2019
Scotland’s press conference after winning over Russia:
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