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Rugby World Cup chaos as Scotland's crunch clash with Japan in doubt while England and New Zealand games postponed

A typhoon course map of Hagibis is seen as Alan Gilpin, tournament director for the 2019 Rugby World Cup and Japan Rugby 2019 CEO Akira Shimazu speak at a press conference.
A typhoon course map of Hagibis is seen as Alan Gilpin, tournament director for the 2019 Rugby World Cup and Japan Rugby 2019 CEO Akira Shimazu speak at a press conference.

By Ruaidhri O'Connor

The Rugby World Cup has been plunged into chaos by the impending arrival of super-typhoon Hagibis which is expected to hit the Japanese mainland on Saturday.

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As a result, organisers have cancelled Saturday's final Pool B and C fixtures between Italy and New Zealand and England and France, with both games being declared nil-all draws - handing two points a-piece to the teams.

The final match in Ireland’s pool, Japan’s pivotal clash with Scotland on Sunday, is being monitored with a decision being taken on the morning of the game.

Games fixed for the southern part of Japan, where Ireland are stationed on the island of Kyushu, will go ahead as normal.

If Ireland beat Samoa with a bonus point on Saturday, it doesn’t matter what happens in the subsequent match but if they come up with four points or less they will be monitoring events in Yokohama closely.

If the match is cancelled, Japan and Scotland would be handed two match points each. The hosts would then be on 16 points and would top the pool, but the Scots would only get to 12. That would leave them facing an exit, unless Ireland come out of the Samoa match empty handed.

A cancellation combined with Ireland getting at least one point would mean Ireland take on New Zealand in the quarter-final on Saturday week.

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Unlikely as it was, Italy had an opportunity to qualify for the quarter-finals by beating New Zealand with a bonus point on Saturday but that chance is now gone.

The call-off means the All Blacks top Pool B on 16 points, with South Africa second on 15. England will win Pool C with 17 points, with France second on 15.

If Scotland are eliminated based on the cancellation there will be a far greater uproar, because they have a real chance to earn a spot in the quarter-finals if they beat Japan.

World Rugby say that match will not be relocated or rescheduled, meaning it must take place on Sunday.

It is understood that the Scots fully expect their game to be played in Yokohama, even if it takes place behind closed doors.

Anything less would bring the competition’s integrity into question.

“This is a complex and dynamic situation which we have been monitoring extremely closely with the assistance of our weather information experts,” Tournament Director Alan Gilpin said at a press conference held in Tokyo this morning.

"We are now in a position to accurately predict the likely impact of Typhoon Hagibis on Rugby World Cup fixtures this weekend.

"While making every possible effort to put in place a contingency plan that would enable all of Saturday’s matches to be played,it would be grossly irresponsible to leave teams, fans, volunteers & other tournament personnel exposed during what is predicted to be a severe typhoon.

“As a result, we have taken the decision to cancel some matches in order to ensure the safety of all involved. It is the right thing to do, and comes with the support of all stakeholders, including the teams.

“We fully appreciate that England, France, New Zealand and Italy fans will be disappointed, but we trust they will appreciate that their safety must come first. They will be entitled to a full refund on their match tickets.

“Our message for all fans in Japan for Rugby World Cup is to heed all official advice, stay indoors throughout Saturday and do not attempt to travel on the day.”

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