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'This is bigger than rugby': Brian O'Driscoll sums up mood shift at World Cup as one dead in Typhoon Hagibis

Damaged homes caused by strong wind brought by Typhoon Hagibis in Ichihara, Chiba.
Damaged homes caused by strong wind brought by Typhoon Hagibis in Ichihara, Chiba.
Debris from structures are seen following a strong wind in Ichihara, Chiba, near Tokyo Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019. Tokyo and surrounding areas braced for a powerful typhoon forecast as the worst in six decades, with streets and trains stations unusually quiet Saturday as rain poured over the city. (Katsuya Miyagawa/Kyodo News via AP)
TOKYO, JAPAN - OCTOBER 12: A man photographs the flooded Tama River during Typhoon Hagibis on October 12, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. Typhoon Hagibis is the most powerful typhoon to hit Japan this year and has been classed by the Japan Meteorological Agency as a 'violent typhoon' - the highest category on Japans typhoon scale. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - OCTOBER 12: A man's umbrella is blown out as he looks at the flooded Tama River during Typhoon Hagibis on October 12, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. Typhoon Hagibis is the most powerful typhoon to hit Japan this year and has been classed by the Japan Meteorological Agency as a 'violent typhoon' - the highest category on Japans typhoon scale. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

The reality of the severity of Typhoon Hagibis is hitting home in Japan as one person has already died with the eye of the storm still to land in Tokyo.

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Heavy rain and strong winds have begun pounding the Japanese capital as the powerful typhoon hit landfall. It's the strongest storm to hit Japan since the 1958 typhoon that killed 1,200 people.

Under gloomy skies, a tornado ripped through Chiba on Saturday, overturning a car in the city of Ichihara and killing a man inside, city official Tatsuya Sakamaki said.

Two men working to control overflowing of a river canal were swept away and went missing in the Niskikawa River, although one has been rescued.

Five people were also injured when the tornado ripped through a house. Their injuries were not life-threatening, Mr Sakamaki added.

"Be ready for rainfall of the kind that you have never experienced," said meteorological agency official Yasushi Kajihara, adding that areas usually safe from disasters may prove vulnerable. "Take all measures necessary to save your life."

There had been early anger over Rugby World Cup postponements, with England's game against Wales and New Zealand's clash with Italy already falling victim to the weather.

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Scotland's Sunday meeting with tournament hosts is also under threat, with Japan's players having to wade through a flooded stadium tunnel for their captain's run.

Former Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll, however, says that the sporting frustrations have already been put firmly in perspective.

"Rugby seems insignificant," ," he said in his role as a pundit on ITV.

"We've already had the loss of one life so I hope that that's limited but the focus is about safety rather than rugby. We have to get over ourselves and our annoyance around our disrupted tournament and cross our figures that we get through this period relatively unscathed.

"My opinion has shifted massively from one of anger and frustration over the last 24 hours to the realisation that this is a brutally unlucky situation that World Rugby has found themselves in.

"It's the worst storm in 60 years. I don't know what contingency plans you can have in place for that sort of thing. My concern was we were the laughing stock of the sporting world. People were wondering how you have a sporting tournament in the middle of the typhoon season.

"This isn't the first sporting event to take place in Japan during typhoon season. There are the Olympics coming next year, the Grand Prix is here, Moto GP is here. It's just massively unlucky.

"People will talk about contingency plans when Japan pitched for the initial bid 10 or 11 years ago.

"It's impossibly to have a contingency plan for a 14,00km typhoon.

"You think of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina not that long ago. This is widespread and bigger than any sport including rugby."

Some 17,000 police and military troops have been called up, standing ready for rescue operations.

Hagibis, which means "speed" in Filipino, was advancing north-northwestward with maximum sustained winds of 100 miles per hour, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

It was expected to make landfall near Tokyo later on Saturday, unleashing up to 20 inches of rains and then blow out to sea eastward.

Evacuation advisories have been issued for risk areas, including Shimoda city, west of Tokyo.

Dozens of evacuation centres were opening in coastal towns, and people were resting on gymnasium floors, saying they hoped their homes were still there after the storm passed.

The storm has disrupted this nation's three-day weekend, which includes Sports Day on Monday.

Qualifying for a Formula One auto race in Suzuka was pushed to Sunday. The Defence Ministry cut a three-day annual navy review to a single day on Monday.

All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines grounded most domestic and international flights scheduled at the Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya airports.

Central Japan Railway Co said it will cancel all bullet train service between Tokyo and Osaka except for several early on Saturday trains connecting Nagoya and Osaka. Tokyo Disneyland was closed.

Ginza department stores and smaller shops throughout Tokyo shuttered ahead of the typhoon.

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