Map showing forecast path of typhoon Hagibis which is approaching Japan and threatens to disrupt the Rugby World Cup. Photo: AFP
rugby world cup 2019

Fans frustrated as typhoon disrupts World Cup

26 Comments
By Pierrick YVON

Thousands of fans were left disappointed on Thursday as an approaching typhoon forced Rugby World Cup organisers to cancel two games, spoiling their trip to Japan.

Supporters flew to Japan in droves to watch England play France and New Zealand against Italy on Saturday, only for the unprecedented cancellation prompted by Super Typhoon Hagibis.

More games are under threat as Hagibis, forecast to be the biggest storm to hit Japan this year, plows into the country on Saturday, bringing high wind, torrential rain and the potential for widespread destruction.

British couple Simon and Angela Learey, who live in Sydney, were among many visitors frustrated by the cancellations -- the first in Rugby World Cup history.

They flew in this week to watch "Le Crunch" between Six Nations rivals England and France on Saturday, with tickets that were a birthday present.

"Very disappointed, we came only especially for that match," Angela said.

"We're taking time off work to have those few days here. Holiday is precious so we were ready to take the five days to come here and now we think, hmmm," she added. "Maybe it's nice to see Tokyo but we came mainly for the World Cup, so very disappointed."

Many fans also face disruption to organized tours, which revolve around the games, while hundreds of domestic flights have already been cancelled.

More than 100 flights were grounded when Typhoon Faxai -- much smaller than Hagibis -- hit Japan before the World Cup, leaving two people dead and cutting power to half-a-million homes.

Catherine, a French tour guide who has lived in Japan for about 20 years, questioned the wisdom of holding the World Cup in typhoon season. Tokyo will also host the Summer Olympics next July and August.

"Why are they holding the World Cup now, when everyone knows there are typhoons?" she said. "I don't understand it. Why are the Olympics in the height of summer when everyone's going to die of heat?"

Englishman Paul Moore, 61, who lives in typhoon-prone Hong Kong, said it was the right decision to cancel the two games on Saturday.

"I know how bad typhoons can be... I'm disappointed but it's the right decision," he said, adding: "It's a super typhoon so it's one of the big ones."

Asked what he planned to do instead of going to the game, Moore said: "Find a bar! Because there are other games still on so we'll find a bar somewhere."

It was a common solution raised by fans, although many of Tokyo's bars will be shut when the storm hits and it will be dangerous to venture outdoors.

Flavia Spena, an Italian who lives in New Zealand, was disappointed to miss out on a rare match between the two countries.

"We are very disappointed that it has been cancelled, but we understand that a typhoon is something very serious. But as a fan coming all the way, it's a little bit sad," she said.

For Chris, an English fan from Gloucester who was visiting with his brother and three friends, it was a long way to come for a match that isn't taking place.

"We've made such a long journey, travelled 10,000 miles (16,000 kilometers) for a cancelled match," he said, sipping a beer to ease the pain.

© 2019 AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

26 Comments

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The inability to hold the games is scheduled cannot be helped, of course, given the danger.

But Japan is a very organized place - usually the day (or at least two days) after a typhoon the sun is shining, the trains are running and everyone is going about their business.

Can they not postpone a day or two?

Everyone knew it would be typhoon season.

We were told there were contingency plans.

This is the contingency plan?

Simply canceling games?

Maybe a straight cancellation fits the dictionary definition of "contingency plan", but I don't think this is what fans understood when they heard contingencies for typhoons would be in place.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Can they not postpone a day or two?

I agree, especially when the stadiums that the matches are held have nothing else going on until the following match like 5 days later.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

The thing is, if one team's match is postponed and played later, it could likely mean they have less time than their potential quarterfinal opponents to prepare, which is also unfair.

No simple solutions, and hopefully we don't see too much weather carnage on the weekend.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

They should have had contingency plans for playing the matches behind closed doors if needed. It's a huge balls-up. Those games need to be played somehow, it's unfair on the other teams that they aren't. England & NZ now have a two week break before their QF games, that gives them a big advantage.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

The inability of the organzers not rescheduling is what is most frustrating and not the typhoon

The organizers are just damn lazy and don't really care about the fans or the game. Maybe they have made more than enough money and outright cancellation of a few games won't hurt revenues so they think or they want to cozy up in their five star hotel suites.

I don't understand why the games cannot be moved one day ahead which luckily is a public holiday so attendance will not be impacted.

Geez, two games can even be played in one stadium on the same day if the will to do it is there.

I was beginning to develop some interest in the game and the decision has cooled off the interest.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

The thing is, if one team's match is postponed and played later, it could likely mean they have less time than their potential quarterfinal opponents to prepare, which is also unfair.

Samoa played Japan under 4 days rest while Japan had 6 days.

Scotland played on wednesday and is supposed to play a crucial match against Japan on Sundays that is 3 days rest while Japan is 7 days rest. So which unfairness are you talking about.?

The decision to outright cancel the games rather than move them a day ahead will end up being controversial to fans of some countries and rightly so.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

jpg_guy: "Can they not postpone a day or two?"

What do you say to people who flew in (domestic or from abroad) or came in on Shinkansen to see the match, and have fixed tickets? Will the Rugby organisers pay their transport and hotel fees for extra days?

"Everyone knew it would be typhoon season."

And so they should not have been allowed to host.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

https://www.rugbyworldcup.com/tournament-rules

Where a pool Match cannot be commenced on the day in which it is scheduled, it shall not be postponed to the following day, and shall be considered as cancelled. In such situations, the result shall be declared a draw and Teams will be allocated two Match points each and no score registered. For the avoidance of doubt, no bonus points will be awarded.

The rules say they can not postpone to another day.

I do not know rules for the relocating, but seeing the typhoon route and timing relocating seems difficult. We are not talking only about the team and press but also a full lot of people wanting to see it. It means providing transportation for all of these : plane are not flying, train are not running. The safest place is south but it is not reachable on Saturday, so it means going there on Friday. They have to fit a least 1 additionnal Shinkansen in the schedule and/or several plane. Then provide accomodation for all these people. It is not like they can have them sleep in evacuation center.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Japan dropped the ball on this one. And so did the Rugby organizers. And so did the fans for flying all the way over here.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Japan's decision to hold the Rugby World Cup during the typhoon season was a big mistake.And on top of that,next year's Olympics is during the humid,sweltering season they call summer,which on paper listening to the bellyaching, is another own goal.Everyone knows the best time to visit Japan is during the spring,in part to the weather.And the "summer" Olympics could be held in May and still warm weather.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I do not know if the rules allow it or not. Thought if it was possible relocating one of the match in Oita and the other one Kumamoto and having just to move team and press will perhaps have been manageable (not sure that is still a lot of people to move and host). But in the mean time how would have people reacted ?

I do not think the organizers are so found of losing a lot of money and Japan official against some international praise for being able to deal smoothly with a big typhoon, so I do not think they thought lightly before choosing cancellation.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

My daughter’s high school had Sports Day Undou Kai 運動会 this week. If it was raining the alternate day was already schedule into school calendar. If they know how to make backup plans for a high school sports day, surely they would for Rugby’s World Cup. Amazing how illogical it is.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

What do you say to people who flew in (domestic or from abroad) or came in on Shinkansen to see the match, and have fixed tickets? Will the Rugby organisers pay their transport and hotel fees for extra days?

I agree it is not a perfect solution. But at least some of the people planning to see the match would have been able to watch i.e. those that were planning to be around anyway a few days after the game.

Canceling means no-one gets to see the game. So while, as you rightly point out, a postponement is not perfect, a cancellation is surely even worse.

Don't get me wrong, I like Japan and want them to win. I also think a little a little massaging of the schedule to help the home team is fine.

The tournament benefits from having the hosts in the later stages.

So I don't object to Japan getting a long rest between each scheduled fixture (tournament schedules always favor the host, it is natural). However, if you have already employed differential rest periods, it makes no sense to then use differential rest periods as an argument against rescheduling these typhoon-affected matches.

You can't use a certain strategy for one goal (maximizing host participation in the tournament) and then claim it is not fair the week after.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

What the organizers of the RWC are telling us is that the RWC world cup is not an important tournament because if it was, a crucial last match in the group stage that determines your opponent in the QF won't easily be cancelled and declared a draw. It will be rescheduled. If this type of brainless decision is taken in the FIFA soccer WC there would be rioting. This is a WC for christ sake and not some elementary school undokai. Even elementary school undokai is usually rescheduled.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

For anyone who has ever experienced a typhoon, cancelling Saturday games is a no brainer.

Now could they have organised other location +- 1 or 2 days, of course.

Some people may have lost their chance to see the game, but the sportive equity would have remained.

But who care sportive equity actually? Just TV money.

Boooooooo!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

So far no cancelled games have impacted any results of which teams go into the QFs. If Scotland vs Japan gets cancelled then that would potentially alter the result.

But anybody thinking that they should postpone the games really just hasn't thought through the implications. Sure you can do a one off, but at that stage you are on the hook for postponing any number of games to make it fair.

For the pool stages this just does not make any sense. It won't alter who gets into the quarterfinals (except maybe for Japan/Scotland). The rules have been laid out in advance. And teams should ensure they win the games they play if they want to go through.

However, for the knockout stages, I would expect games to be postponed if weather means that they cannot play on the day.

Get a grip on reality people.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

They only cancelled two games and that’s the right decision. It would be very irresponsible to held these games in such a dangerous condition just to please some people.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

So which unfairness are you talking about.? 

Before a knock-out quarterfinal stage and pool games where sides can run on a B-team and still win easily is quite different.

Having one team play a quarterfinal on less preparation than the opponent would equally cause controversy.

Had the typhoon struck the beginning of the pool stage rather than the end, one wonders if the reaction would be completely the same.

Its easy for folks to tap away at the comments on JT but in the real world things are not so simple.

The decision to outright cancel the games rather than move them a day ahead will end up being controversial to fans of some countries and rightly so.

It’s controversial no doubt, but it doesn’t mean there are easy solutions.

And at the end of the day, a team that depends on points from winning one pool game match is not going to win the whole World Cup anyway, methinks.

Stay safe today all!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Well said fxgai!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I decided to keep working in Japan four years ago so that I could finally watch an All Blacks RWC match.

I lost the living in Japan draw. I lost the stadium local draw. I lost the early bird draw. I lost the consolation draw.

I finally got a ticket to one game after waiting hours and hours in the general sales queue.

This happens to be one of two games ever canceled on the history of the world cup. It was cancelled DAYS before hand, despite the fact that we have been watching the storm twist further and further away from Toyota city.

The windspeed at the stadium now: 1 m/s.

Organizers canceled this event with the bizarre mindset that somehow people who had travelled to game locations were going to be able to seek alternate accommodation? Laughable. We are here, and you have let us down.

Media are hyping up this storm, but people on the ground who have been through countless typhoons like this, which arrive, cough up some rain and a light breeze and leave, knew better than RWC organizers.

No contingencies for the world's 3rd largest sporting event in the world, knowingly scheduled during typhoon season?

We have been so very let down.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

If N.Z. were in Scotland's shoes, in need of a win,the game would be played no matter what. I mean just for their haka is what Japanese fans love seeing.Getting bored of it myself.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

If N.Z. were in Scotland's shoes, in need of a win

Yeah, and if Scotland had defeated Ireland....? Oh yeah, they lost comprehensively.

If Scotland ends up missing out because of this, it’s bad luck that they missed a chance. But the super typhoon has sprung from. nowhere and disrupted the event; some people are going to be unhappy no matter what.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Oh yeah, they lost comprehensively.

Irrelevant to my POINT.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Your point is pretty hypothetical though, no?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

cracaphat

If N.Z. were in Scotland's shoes, in need of a win,the game would be played no matter what.

Absolutely not. World Rugby are being consistent here and you'd have to be quite the conspiracy theorist to think that they would favour New Zealand over other nations.

If Scotland wanted to secure a quarterfinal spot and not risk enforced draws due to the weather, then they needed to win their earlier games.

After the shrieking SRU talking about lawsuits and the like and nothing about the tragic typhoon about to wreck havoc in Japan, I'm siding with a cancellation. I think it's shameful. And it would seem a fair compromise to me considering Japan beat Ireland and Scotland did not.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If Scotland wanted to secure a quarterfinal spot and not risk enforced draws due to the weather, then they needed to win their earlier games.

The above goes without saying.But my simple point is that favoritism would've been shown to the N.Z. team if their situations were reversed.And with the policy of stronger teams being given yonks between each game as opposed to the minnows,my point remains probably true.Scotland ain't no rugby lightweight,but...

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

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