Alan Gilpin, left, tournament director for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, and Japan Rugby 2019 CEO Akira Shimazu attend a press briefing in Tokyo Thursday to discuss the impact of Typhoon Hagibis on the final round Rugby World Cup 2019 pool matches this weekend. Photo: AP/Eugene Hoshiko
rugby world cup 2019

Rugby World Cup organizers cancel 2 games due to typhoon

36 Comments
By John Pye

The powerful typhoon that has caused the first ever cancellation of Rugby World Cup games has ended Italy's prospects of reaching the quarterfinals and could upset Scotland's chances of progressing to the knockout stages as well.

Rugby World Cup organizers on Thursday announced that two games scheduled for Saturday - the Pool C decider between England and France in Yokohama and the Pool B game between defending champion New Zealand and Italy in the city of Toyota - had been canceled because of the anticipated impact of Typhoon Hagibis. Sunday's game in Yokohama between host Japan and Scotland could also be scrapped, depending on the weather.

The Japan Meteorological Agency is warning the powerful typhoon may bring torrential rain and strong winds to central parts of the country between Saturday and Sunday, coinciding with the last round of World Cup group games. It has urged people to take precautions to avoid potentially life-threatening danger. Airlines and train services anticipate cancellations in what is expected to be the most destructive typhoon of 2019.

World Rugby tournament director Alan Gilpin said organizers had looked at all options, including moving the Yokohama and Toyota games to other venues, but it wasn't logistically possible in a fair way to all teams.

"While making every 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 ... exposed during what is predicted to be a severe typhoon, Gilpin said. "We've taken the very difficult decision but right decision to cancel matches in affected areas.

"We don't think it undermines the quarterfinals at all," he told a news conference.

All games canceled because of weather are logged as scoreless draws and each team will get two competition points, meaning Italy cannot finish better than third in Pool B and England will top Pool C without having to play France, despite both teams being unbeaten. Scotland needs to beat Japan to have any chance of reaching the playoffs. If the game is canceled, Japan and Ireland will advance to the knockout rounds.

All fans with tickets for a canceled match will receive a full refund. Organizers said every effort would be made to ensure all four matches on Sunday go ahead. A final decision is expected to be made Sunday morning.

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen said cancelling their pool match with Italy was "a no-brainer."

The All Blacks were informed in the morning that it was off, and they still went out and trained.

"When you get a typhoon to the level we're getting, then safety is the paramount thing so it's a no-brainer," Hansen said. "The most important thing that happens now is how we adapt and adjust to it."

The All Blacks advanced to the quarterfinals and will know their opponent on Sunday, either Ireland, Japan or Scotland.

Captain Kieran Read said they were disappointed for themselves and Italy, and the fans.

"Of course we'd want this game in terms of game-time and things," Read said. "But we've been around this game a long time, trained a lot together and we're ready to go next week. It's got no bearing on how we turn up next week and we're excited by it."

England coach Eddie Jones said he no problems with the tournament decision.

"Of course everyone is disappointed. We wanted to play France and we put a lot of work into that," he was quoted as saying. "We have no issues, so we're getting on with it. It's a wonderful World Cup but you can't help typhoons."

Friday's Pool D game between Australia and Georgia at Shizuoka and Saturday's game between Ireland and Samoa at Fukuoka will go ahead as scheduled.

Gilpin said all 20 teams were aware of the cancellation policies well before the World Cup kicked off, so he wasn't expecting any protests or legal comeback from teams deprived of games.

"All the teams signed up to the participation agreement. They're well aware of the tournament rules," Gilpin said. "That's not a concern. We always knew there would be risks (with the weather) but it's rare for there to be a typhoon of this size at this stage of the year. We have no regrets."

The logistics of moving 20 teams around a dozen cities and the geography involved diminished the possibility of last-minute changes to venues.

"It's complex. There's little flexibility, and that's why the tournament rules are as they are," he said. "We've got some different opportunities if we have similar impacts in the knockout phase."

Typhoon Hagibis had winds gusting up to 270 kilometers per hour (168 mph) Thursday morning. It is expected to weaken over cooler waters as it nears Japan's main island.

Japan's central Pacific coast may see torrential rains beginning Friday and the high waves and tides may cause flooding. Japan is regularly hit by Pacific storms. Typhoon Faxai caused massive power outages in Chiba Prefecture near Tokyo in September. Typhoon Jebi flooded a terminal and a runway at Kansai International Airport last year.

© 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

36 Comments
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Sunday should be fine, but if the typhoon hangs around it could mean a ticket to the final 8 for Japan.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I'd be filthy if i were an Italian/Scottish supporter. No one's going to make me believe that both NZ v Italy & Sco vs JPN wouldn't have been played/rescheduled if both NZ & JPN needed a win/bp win to go through to the qf. (not only NZ i mean any rugby 'superpower', rwc host etc). Terrible decision imo.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

All fans with tickets for a cancelled match will receive a full refund for the face value of their match tickets.

And for those who bought scalped tickets at more than face value...LOL.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Why they could not schedule the tournament a month later is a mystery . Prob involves a Calendar or Window of some kind. One month later and the humidity drops and typhoon season is ending, Japan is a fantastic host nation..however timing is not the best. Its not just the fans there who are loosing out. There are many more around the world ,most who are paying money to watch these games. Hell, send the teams south and play and televise them. SUCKS for those teams who can miss out on final 8. Good luck for the Olympics...sorry cancelled the 100m Sprints .Too dangerous for pole vaulters. I get the safety thing , however the so called contingency plans equated to nothing.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

I don’t see why they had to cancel them outright. Surely they could have postponed them for a few days and rescheduled other matches around the postponement. I’m sure there are many ticket holders who cane to Japan just to watch those specific games.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

This is really sad - and means that the world champions go into a QF (potentially against Ireland) not having played for 2 weeks. That has disaster written all over it. NZ should invite Italy over for a private game in an indoor stadium

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Australia will likely also have to play and England team that has had 2 weeks off, and fewer injuries. Unfair advantage from the get-go. And if the typhoon veers away from Tokyo, a lot of egg will be on certain faces

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Typhoons have a habit of either being worse than anticipated, or just as often, a complete non-entity. Be prepared for recriminations if this one veers off, blowing a few autumn leaves around.

Obviously the right decision with fuzzy logic, and without the benefit of hindsight.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Sorry to see any games cancelled, but at least these two don't affect the advancement. Italy has played well, but there's no way they were going to beat the All Blacks.

Scotland/Japan should be moved to Kyushu or somewhere out of the path ASAP so the teams have time to get there. Empty stadium = ok. Televise it. The other Sunday games are of no real consequence (though I have tickets and will be personally gutted).

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Sorry to see any games cancelled, but at least these two don't affect the advancement. Italy has played well, but there's no way they were going to beat the All Blacks.

Not the point, imo. Leicester were 1/5000 to win the PL and guess what, they won it. That's what sport is (should be) all about; give ppl/teams/fans the opportunity to live their dream, have a crack and achieve the unthinkable (... or -more realistically- get trashed by the all blacks).

No one's saying that some footy should be played in kanto on Saturday but surely cancelling WC matches should never be a satisfying option (Monday looks fine, public holiday an added bonus). Let's hope the sco vs jpn game goes ahead.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

The All Blacks were informed in the morning that it was off, and they still went out and trained.

There’s a reason these guys are champions.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Outright shambles and a scandal.

And making the decision on Sunday about the Japan game serves only one purpose, the qualification of Japan. That game can be postponed now. Till Monday. No problem at all. So could the Saturday games. Since the winner of the Japan game will face NZ, they would have the same restdays before quarter finals.

lets see, IRB, JRFU, Loc2019, 12 host cities and staff, 35000 volunteers, STH, IMG, Dentsu and JTB, but not possible to simply reschedule 3 games ?

Apart from the fact they had 6 years to prepare for this eventuality, of which the organisers said they were fully prepared for.

Are the “ organisers “ also reimbursing the airline tickets, hotels and other expenses of the foreign ticket holders ?

Why cancel 2 games, 2 days in advance and the Sunday game on Sunday only ?

Yes, there is a big difference between Italy and Scotland, the first not even dreaming they can beat the All Blacks and qualify while the Scottish are favourites to qualify against Japan.

This is pure incompetence under the umbrella of safety. Good management will not compromise safety and still have those games played

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Cancelling matches is apparently their idea of a "robust" contingency plan. Absurd. As others note, the matches could have been played elsewhere, even in an empty stadium.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

The photograph illustrates that this is the way they do things here. Most importantly, present a united face.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I'd be filthy if i were an Italian/Scottish supporter. 

Agreed. Although they’re not likely to go all the way, having the chance to go as far as they can removed like this really sucks.

And making the decision on Sunday about the Japan game serves only one purpose, the qualification of Japan. That game can be postponed now. Till Monday. 

The game won’t be postponed. It’ll be held or cancelled. If it’s cancelled Japan goes through. Completely unfair for Scotland.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I have an English mate flying in from New York, Friday to Sunday just for the England France game. He must be gutted.

We did the Jet program in Shikoku and haven't met in over 20 years.

How sad. Wonder will he still come

1 ( +3 / -2 )

How many years did the organisers have to put together a contingency plan? Shambolic planning and a stain on what has been an entertaining World Cup.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Funny article, it only includes quotes from teams that benefit from the cancellation, giving it an overall positive tone. Hmmmm......

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Why not reschedule instead of cancelling? I don't get it. Reschedule and give all equal and fair chance of advancing.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Understand the need to cancel for safety reasons, but surely it is not beyond the wit of man to reschedule?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

What a farce. A cancelled game? Has a Rugby World Cup fixture ever been cancelled before?

This is the World Cup, the pinnacle of rugby, not some school comp. Postpone, or even fly both teams out to an unaffected location and play.

Otherwise it will be talked about as the worst Rugby World Cup ever.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

I wonder why they couldn't have played both games tomorrow, for example. I'm sure many ticket-holders would have still gone, even if they were working, especially if the games were in the evening. England-France at 7:30 p.m. might have worked. I know it would have involved logistics problems for broadcasters but less so for hotels. England and France were already here anyway. Too bad.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Rugby rules are rugby rules and the teams signed it before the world cup..

Get over it..

-10 ( +2 / -12 )

World Rugby tournament director Alan Gilpin said organizers had looked at all options, including moving the Yokohama and Toyota games to other venues, but it wasn't logistically possible in a fair way to all teams.

Moving to another venue wasn't fair to all teams. What an utter joke.

I guess cancelling the scotland match if it does happen will be fair to scotland.

Resheduling a day later wasn't even thought off.

The host playing in the QF means more money, money is all that matters not fairness or integrity of the sport.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

This rule is a World Rugby's rule, and if you ask me, it's stupid. It has nothing to do with Japanese organisation. World Rugby, FIFA...etc. have already showed more times their poor way to handle sport events with weird rules and choices.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Rugby rules are rugby rules and the teams signed it before the world cup..

Get over it..

Teams signed up, but did the fans? How many people knew of this rule before the typhoon popped up?

This is one of the dumbest rules I've heard of. They should have better contingency plans. But I guess this is one of the reasons why rugby isn't so popular.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen said cancelling their pool match with Italy was "a no-brainer."

Easy for him to say.

England coach Eddie Jones said he no problems with the tournament decision.

Duh. England top the group and get extra rest.

Now to balance things out, here is a quote from the Italy captain, telling the other side of the story:

“It is difficult to know that we won’t have the chance to play a match against one of the great teams,” said Parisse. “If New Zealand needed four or five points against us it would not have been cancelled.

“It is ridiculous that a decision of this nature has been made because it isn’t like the fans arrived yesterday. It is ridiculous that there was no plan B, because it isn’t news that typhoons hit Japan.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

For those of you who are complaining about the cancelations, do you know how hard it is to plan an international tournament, and all the difficult logistics related to it? I'm betting not. I'm sure the planning committee is doing its best. You all just need to accept the reality, and get on with your lives. It's just a sport. I know I sound like an ass, so no need to comment if your going to mention that.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Safety of people is paramount definitely as it is only a game after all. But I still wonder why they couldn’t have just pushed the Sat and Sunday games into Monday and Tuesday or even later in the week if necessary. I hope it wasn’t because Eddie Jones would complain about a shorter turnaround time for England! Everybody just hunker down for the weekend, and then come out and play once it’s passed. Surely that’s better than cancelling games?

7 ( +8 / -1 )

goldorak

I'd be filthy if i were an Italian/Scottish supporter.

Sure. But Italy were never going to be a contender to get in. I don't see how the Scottish could be annoyed, they will get to play their game.

No one's going to make me believe that both NZ v Italy & Sco vs JPN wouldn't have been played/rescheduled if both NZ & JPN needed a win/bp win to go through to the qf. (not only NZ i mean any rugby 'superpower', rwc host etc).

Ummm, well believe what you want to, but the NZ game was cancelled and the tables were never a factor in the decision. Any other conspiracy theories you want to come up with?

Terrible decision imo.

So the safety of fans and players is unimportant. It was a necessary decision.

As for rescheduling, I think people here vastly underestimate the logistical challenge that would be, not to mention how unfair it would be for preparation time for the quarter finals.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

As for rescheduling, I think people here vastly underestimate the logistical challenge that would be, not to mention how unfair it would be for preparation time for the quarter finals.

Get on a shinkansen and play at a rugby club somewhere else. Might be unfortunate for the fans there, but at least it could be televised.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

As for rescheduling, I think people here vastly underestimate the logistical challenge that would be, not to mention how unfair it would be for preparation time for the quarter finals.

Get on a shinkansen and play at a rugby club somewhere else. Might be unfortunate for the fans there, but at least it could be televised.

I rest my point.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Get on a shinkansen and play at a rugby club somewhere else

If it was that simple, it would have been done, but it isn't that simple. All kinds of arrangements have to be made to move the teams, including security and translators and other companions to the relocation. Local authorities at the new venue will need to be notified and preparations will need to be made to receive and accomodate the teams. Guess what? That takes time, resources and manpower. The same sort of arrangements would also be needed for the television crews who have come from all around the world to document these matches. That requires a lot of time, energy, resources and manpower as well. And what if the new venue can't support that many TV crews? Who gets left out in the cold and who gets to set up? How is that fairly and quickly decided? It isn't, is the simple answer. And all of these problems are bad enough as it is without going into detail about how it will affect local businesses, local commutors etc who will suddenly be inundated when they're not prepared or equipped for such a thing, while those who are equipped and prepared suddenly get left wth a ghost town. It'll cause chaos. The logistics are far beyond what you seem to think.

While I do agree that postponing should be an option, I would have to assume that there is some reason why it isn't being implemented. There must be some limited time-frame in place that doesn't allow for postponing. That sounds like a failing on the part of World Rugby, not on Japan. World Rugby are the ones who decided when the tournament would take place, so they should have been very well aware of the high probability of typhoon interference. Well, they had awareness, since the teams signed up for that.

Teams signed up, but did the fans?

This has been in planning for what? 4 years now? That's plenty long enough for the fans to do a little research. It only takes one Google search to find out what the weather's like in Japan, so it's up to them to look into how the weather would affect the tournament and whether or not any contingencies were being made. Failing to research a country before you travel to it is asking for trouble. 4 years, if not more if it's anything like the Olympics and the football World Cup. The fans have no right to claim they didn't know anything with this much time to look into it.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

The venues have their money and so do the hotels and airlines!

Rescheduling-why bother then?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

And what if the new venue can't support that many TV crews? Who gets left out in the cold and who gets to set up? How is that fairly and quickly decided?

It isn't quickly decided. It's called planning in advance, which obviously world rugby was too lazy to do.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Those of you talking about difficulties in logistics of moving the games or rescheduling clearly don't know what you are talking about.

Moving the cancelled match to the sunday or monday or if possible playing two matches on the same day in the same stadium is possible.

The typhoon comes and passes, it is not like it hovers around an area for days thus making resheduling difficult.

Samoa played Japan under four days rest, scotland was supposed to play Japan under 3 days rest, so how does moving the games one day ahead impact the QF?

The decision is just ridiculous and does supporting are just talking without putting any thought.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

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