England-France set to be cancelled under World Rugby's plans for Typhoon impact

Rugby World Cup
by Iain Payten and wires

Rugby World Cup organisers are set to announce the cancellation of England's final around clash with France at a media briefing on plans to deal with the damaging Typhoon Hagibis hitting Japan on the weekend.

Media outlets in the UK and France both reported on Wednesday night that the England-France game, which was due to be played at Yokohama on Saturday evening, would be cancelled due to forecast impact of the 'violent" Typhoon Hagibis.

World Rugby have scheduled a press conference for 2pm AEDT.

England and France have both already qualified for the quarter-finals but the match was to determine who finished top.

But with the points shared in a cancelled match, England will maintain their two-point lead and thus likely face the Wallabies in the first round of playoffs. France will face Wales.

The Daily Mail reported it was initially being investigated to move the England-France game to Oita, further south, but logistical problems proved too difficult to overcome.


Super Typhoon #Hagibis, with winds sustained at 160 mph. pic.twitter.com/PKZjk1TSWZ

— The Weather Channel (@weatherchannel) October 9, 2019

It is uncertain what will happen with Japan's clash with Scotland, scheduled for Sunday night in Yokohama. If that game is cancelled, Scotland would likely miss out on the finals and there are suggestions that game could be moved or delayed by 24 hours.

The Wallabies' game against Georgia on Friday night will not be affected but travel for fans could be majorly affected, with trains and flights certain to be disrupted.

The Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA) currently ranks Hagibis as "violent" -- its highest possible classification -- packing maximum gusts of up to 280 kilometres per hour.

It is predicted to weaken considerably by the time it gets closer to Japan, but it could still potentially be one of most powerful typhoons in recent years, the JMA warned.

On its current course, the eye of the storm is forecast to clip the southeastern corner of Japan near Tokyo and Yokohama, a similar trajectory to Typhoon Faxai which caused massive transport disruption a fortnight before the Rugby World Cup.

Typhoon Hagibis is rated as bigger and more powerful than Faxai.

However, typhoons often alter course at the last minute and the JMA and World Cup organisers have said it is too early to make firm predictions about the impact.

Initially, the path of the storm was expected to take it over Japan's southwestern island of Kyushu, potentially affecting Ireland v Samoa in Fukuoka and Wales v Uruguay in Kumamoto.

However, a radical change of course made it more likely to hit the Tokyo area on Saturday night.

Organisers have frequently trumpeted what they call a "robust" contingency plan, with options including postponing a match, moving venues or cancelling it.

In a recent interview with AFP, tournament organiser Alan Gilpin explained the timescale of when they would take a decision on whether to move a match or change the timing of a game.

"From a match perspective, 72 hours out, we want to know really if there are going to be any potential adverse impacts. So that's the kind of early warning. If it looks like there will be, from that point, we are getting updated information every three hours," explained Gilpin.

"And then 24 hours out really, we need to know, from a fairly realistic perspective, what is the impact of that tropical storm, typhoon."

"Where's that going to strike, what's the wind speed and what's the potential impact of that. So we'll pre-make decisions 24 hours out," he added.

A decision on cancelling a match would be confirmed "six to eight hours out," the organiser added.

During the pool stages, where the games come thick and fast, there is no possibility of rescheduling a match.

If a game has to be cancelled due to adverse weather, it counts as a 0-0 draw, with both teams getting two points each.

From the knock-out stages, there are reserve days if a match cannot be played.