Decision of Scotland game delayed until Sunday morning, pending weather reports
Scotland’s World Cup is still in doubt after tournament organisers said on Thursday they would wait until Sunday morning to decide if the Scots’ final and decisive pool match against Japan would go ahead that evening, as large parts of the country await the arrival of one of the most powerful typhoons in decades.
England and France, however, will not play in Yokohama on Saturday evening, with World Rugby and tournament organisers taking the unprecedented step of cancelling their match. Both teams have qualified for the quarterfinals with a game to spare.
Tournament director Alan Gilpin told reporters that “after extensive evaluation of weather information” organisers had decided to take the unprecedented step of cancelling matches between New Zealand and Italy and England v France.
The matches will be treated as a 0-0 draws and each time awarded two points.
“We’ve taken the very difficult but we think right decision to cancel matches,” Gilpin said, adding that Australia v Georgia and Ireland v Ireland Samoa would go ahead.
“The decision to cancel these matches has not been taken lightly and had been taken with the safety of players, supporters, and volunteers’ safety as a priority,” Gilpin said.
He said the risks posed by the risks “too challenging” to deliver a fair and consistent approach for all teams and ensure the safety of spectators. Fans with tickets for the two cancelled matches will receive a refund.
New Zealand v Italy and England v France matches cancelled
Matches cancelled due to Hagibis, RWC confirms
Our rugby union correspondent Gerard Meagher explains what is going on and what it might mean for the tournament:
World Rugby may be forced into taking the unprecedented step of cancelling Saturday’s Pool C match between England and France as well as Scotland’s crucial fixture with Japan 24 hours later as the category five super typhoon heads for Yokohama. Both matches were among the most in-demand when tickets went on sale.
Any games cancelled due to weather problems are registered as scoreless draws, with both sides awarded two points. While England and France have already qualified for the quarter-finals, it could have huge consequences for Scotland’s Pool A game with the hosts, which also takes place at Yokohama’s 72,000-seater stadium. If that match is cancelled Scotland would be eliminated, assuming Ireland beat Samoa on Saturday.
One of World Rugby’s contingency plans is to move both matches to other venues but that would cause havoc for more than 140,000 supporters across the weekend and prove a huge logistical headache for tournament organisers.
Super Typhoon Hagibis puts matches at risk
Hello and welcome to the Guardian’s live coverage of today’s Rugby World Cup weather-related drama.
World Rugby is set to hold a press conference, announcing a decision on whether Super Typhoon Hagibis will prompt some of this weekend’s matches to be cancelled or moved.
Japan is awaiting updates on the progress of one of the most violent super typhoons in recent history, which, if it makes landfall in Japan as it is predicted to on Saturday, could cause huge damage and potential casualties.
Rugby fans are watching the progress of the typhoon carefully, for its impact on the World Cup. Two crucial matches face cancellation or disruptive last-minute shifts to new venue due to Hagibis.
Scotland are scheduled to play Japan at the 72,000-seater Yokohama Stadium on Sunday, and England are scheduled to play France at the same venue on Saturday. Both matches were among the most in-demand when tickets went on sale.
The stakes are highest for the Scots, who would be eliminated if their match against Japan were to be cancelled, assuming that Ireland beat Samoa in Fukuoka on Saturday.
World Rugby and World Cup organisers are due to hold a press conference at noon local time on Thursday (4am BST, 2pm AEDT). Our Japan correspondent Justin McCurry is on the ground at the press conference, to bring us news from it. Our stellar Rugby World Cup team is also on hand to provide analysis of and reaction to whatever announcement is made today.
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