A massive typhoon is headed for Japan and crucial games scheduled for this weekend have either been cancelled or are under threat of being called off.
While the Australia vs. Georgia match scheduled for Friday in Shizuoka will go ahead, World Rugby has cancelled two matches on Saturday: New Zealand vs. Italy and, crucially, England vs. France in Yokohama, because of the expected effects of super typhoon Hagibis.
The winner of the England vs. France match would have finished first in pool C, but now England will finish first, by virtue of having more bonus points in their previous games.
Those two games are in areas where heavy rains and wind are expected, with damage to buildings and infrastructure said to be likely.
One game on Saturday is still slated to go: Samoa vs. Ireland in Fukuoka.
Most matches scheduled for Sunday, including Canada vs. Namibia in Kamaishi (kickoff Pacific Time is actually on Saturday evening) and the USA vs. Tonga, are slated to go ahead.
Canada media manager Gareth Rees said in a text message from Japan that the Canadians were on standby but it wasn’t interfering with preparations, nor was it the first time in the tournament they’d had to pay attention to the weather.
“More likely to affect our return travel, if anything,” he noted.
The one Sunday match in serious doubt is Japan vs. Scotland, which is scheduled for the same stadium as the cancelled England vs. France match.
If it’s called off, it will be recorded as a 0-0 draw, meaning Japan would finish first in the pool and eliminating Scotland, who would finish third behind Japan and Ireland, unless the Irish manage to not pick up a point on Saturday.
The cancellation of the two Saturday matches is already drawing criticism, with many expressing skepticism organizers would cancel the games if they had more meaning to the standings.
Italian legend Sergio Parisse was set to take a final bow on his career by facing the All Blacks; this is his fifth world cup and has already said he’s retiring.
Canada has never lost to Namibia and the Namibians have never won a Rugby World Cup finals match.
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