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England and New Zealand matches cancelled as Scotland awaits fate

First-ever cancelled matches in Rugby World Cup's 32-year history leave authorities scrambling to save Japan v Scotland tie

ENGLAND’S Saturday group decider against France was dramatically cancelled on Thursday due to the approach of Super Typhoon Hagibis, in one of the most extraordinary days in 32 years of World Cup history.

Both teams will take two points from the abandoned Pool C showdown at International Stadium Yokohama — putting England top of the group and France second — while New Zealand’s encounter against Italy in Toyota City has shared the same fate.

But still under review is the critical meeting between Scotland and Japan which is also being staged in Yokohama. If that game does not go ahead — pending a review on Sunday morning — the Scots will be automatically eliminated while the tournament hosts would reach the quarter-finals for the first time.
 
The Scottish Rugby Union released a statement on Thursday demanding the match be played under contingency plans.

And speaking at a hastily arranged press conference, Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend urged organisers to do all they can to ensure the match goes ahead.

He said: “We believe the game hasn’t been cancelled because the weather forecast is much improved for Sunday.

“It looks like the game will be played and that’s what we have to keep faith with.”

Hagibis has been described by the Japanese Meteorological Agency as “violent” and has the capacity to cause widespread destruction around the Tokyo region.

It dwarfs Typhoon Faxai which brought Tokyo to a standstill for the day of England’s arrival in Japan, leaving a million homes without power, killing three people and injuring scores more.

Tournament director Alan Gilpin stated that the governing body’s hand was forced by the danger posed by the Category Five super typhoon, which is on course to hit the mainland in the early hours of tomorrow morning.

He said of the cancelled matches: “As you can imagine the decision has not been taken lightly and is in the best interest of safety as a priority.

“All fans will receive full refunds. We are continuing to review Sunday’s matches and making sure they are played as scheduled.

“Assessment will be made after the typhoon has passed. We are advising all fans in Toyota, Yokohama and Tokyo to stay inside on Saturday.”

Perhaps worryingly for Scotland, he said: “Moving teams round on this scale and being able to deliver safely the exit of 12 teams … we couldn’t guarantee contingency plans consistently. If we can’t do it for all, we can’t do it for any.”

The first-ever cancellation of games in nine instalments of the World Cup was preceded by feverish planning. But attempts to move games to Oita — the setting for England’s quarter-final — proved logistically impossible.

England are now heading to Miyazaki for their pre-tournament camp, knowing they and France had already qualified for the last eight.

Head coach Eddie Jones said: “I think the Japanese have a saying — shogun-hi — we can’t control it. It’s not something you can control.”

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