And now, here’s the weather.
England vs France and New Zealand vs Italy have been cancelled in anticipation of Typhoon Hagibis making landfall in the Tokyo region on Saturday.
Games in the only really live group – Pool A, our pool – are as yet undecided, with World Rugby going ahead with them as it stands.
Italy would not have qualified, but it does rob them of a final farewell to stalwarts Leonardo Ghiraldini – set for a cameo from the bench – and Sergio Parisse. Jokes around France and Italy getting better results than they might have done had the games been played are plentiful.
Friday, 11 October
- Pool D match between Australia and Georgia in Shizuoka at 19:15 JST to be played as scheduled
Saturday, 12 October
- Pool A match between Ireland and Samoa in Fukuoka at 19:45 JST to be played as scheduled
- Pool B match between New Zealand and Italy to be cancelled
- Pool C match between England and France to be cancelled
Sunday, 13 October
- Every effort is being made to ensure Sunday’s matches will be played as scheduled. A thorough assessment of venues will take place after the typhoon has passed before a final decision is made on Sunday morning.
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 Toyota City areas throughout Saturday, including likely public transport shutdown or disruption.
As a result, 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. For matches that do not go ahead as scheduled, two points will be awarded to each team in line with tournament rules.World Rugby press release
Ireland v Samoa was initially the most at risk but a swift change of course by the horrendously large and powerful storm should see it now go ahead largely untroubled. An unlikely win for Samoa would make things a little more interesting if Scotland’s game was to be cancelled and filed as a 0-0 draw, but only if Ireland take no match points could Scotland still go through.
Scottish Rugby fully expects contingency plans to be put in place to enable Scotland to contest for a place in the quarter-finals on the pitch, and will be flexible to accommodate this.Scottish Rugby statement
The initial tournament rules stated games would be cancelled if not played on the allocated day and we may have to take that on the chin despite the fury at the decision – or possibly the folly of playing a World Cup in Typhoon season – when it comes.
The final call on the Japan game will be made on Sunday morning when it is hoped the storm will have passed but it is believed that World Cup organisers are prepared to cancel if still not possible at that point. Whatever happens it is very unlikely Scotland will get a team run at the venue the day before – but then they are used to that.
The SRU are keen to see it played whatever the circumstances (behind closed doors or relocated) while for the hosts and tournament organisers the priority is public safety and there could be damage to transport or stadium infrastructure from the typhoon.
A lesser storm that hit Japan in recent weeks just before the competition started claimed one life, injured hundreds more and left millions without power. Hagibis is much larger and much more dangerous.
From RWC’s point of view, they may be thinking that moving a stadium’s worth of fans/logistics/TV crews out of Tokyo to another city a good distance away this close to the storm would actually be more dangerous than everyone staying indoors on Saturday and waiting it out, which is the official instruction being issued.
Should it not be possible to do get the teams on a pitch – any pitch – come Sunday, Scotland’s World Cup could be over.
If you are reading this from Japan, stay safe (FCO Travel Advice here). That’s the most important thing.