In Brief

Super Typhoon Hagibis threatens to ruin the Rugby World Cup

Wild weather could disrupt England and Scotland pool games in Yokohama

Media melodrama or meteorological monster? England will discover the answer at the weekend when they arrive in Yokohama to face France in their final game of pool C at the Rugby World Cup.

The Times is one of several papers to report that England are due to play the French on Saturday at around the time Super Typhoon Hagibis is scheduled to make landfall.

Described as the “most powerful storm to hit Japan this year”, Hagibis threatens to disrupt the final weekend of pool matches in the World Cup.

Not only might it affect England’s final pool match, but also Scotland’s, who play Japan in the same city on Sunday. 

Should the typhoon strike and force the abandonment of the matches in Yokohama it wouldn’t harm England as they and France would each receive two points, meaning England finish top of their pool.

Plan B?

But for Scotland the ramifications could be dire. After securing a bonus-point 61-0 win over Russia on Wednesday, and providing Ireland beat Samoa on Saturday, the Scots will need to beat tournament hosts Japan to reach the quarter-finals.

Alternatively, the organisers could relocate the matches from Yokohama, which is 20 miles from Tokyo. 

The Times says that World Rugby, the sport’s governing body, is monitoring the situation and has a plan B up its sleeve. 

“The latest modelling by our weather experts indicates that it will bring strong winds and heavy rain to Tokyo and surrounding areas on 12 October,” World Rugby said in a statement.

“We have robust contingency plans. If required, [they] will only be actioned if the safety of teams, fans and workforce can be guaranteed.” 

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160mph winds

Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) reported that Hagibis has been growing in intensity, escalating from a tropical storm to a super typhoon with a wind strength of 160mph “expected to go higher”.

However, one man who is taking it all with a pinch of salt is Scott Wisemantel, the England attack coach, who has worked in Japan. 

Asked about the prospect of the match with France falling victim to the weather, he replied: “One thing I have learnt in Japan is that they prepare for the worst and then usually it doesn’t eventuate.”

Billy’s boot

Whatever the weather does, one man who won’t be seen in an England shirt on Saturday is No.8 Billy Vunipola. The Saracens loose forward turned his ankle in the first-half against Argentina and will sit out the final pool game. 

The England management remain cagey about the extent of the injury but The Times says they will not risk him ahead of the likely quarter-final against Australia.

Contrary to what the England camp said at the start of the week, that Vunipola was “walking freely”, photographs have circulated on social media showing the No.8 with his foot in a protective medical boot.

It seems that England medical bulletins, like Japanese weather reports, should always be treated with a degree of scepticism.

Remaining RWC pool fixtures 

Pool fixtures conclude on 13 October and the quarter-finals will be held on 19-20 October. All times below are UK. 

Pool A 
  • Wednesday 9 October: Scotland 61 Russia 0
  • Saturday 12 October: Ireland vs. Samoa (11.45am; Hakatanomori Football Stadium, Fukuoka; ITV)  
  • Sunday 13 October: Japan vs. Scotland (11.45am; International Stadium, Yokohama; ITV) 
Pool B 
  • Saturday 12 October: New Zealand vs. Italy (5.45am; City of Toyota Stadium, Aichi; ITV) 
  • Sunday 13 October: Namibia vs. Canada (4.15am; Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium, Kamaishi; ITV) 
Pool C 
  • Wednesday 9 October: Argentina 47 USA 17  
  • Saturday 12 October: England vs. France (9.15am; International Stadium, Yokohama; ITV) 
  • Sunday 13 October: USA vs. Tonga (6.45am; Hanazono Rugby Stadium, Osaka; ITV) 
Pool D 
  • Wednesday 9 October: Wales vs. Fiji (10.45am; Oita Stadium, Oita; ITV)  
  • Friday 11 October: Australia vs. Georgia (11.15am; Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa, Shizuoka; ITV 4)  
  • Sunday 13 October: Wales vs. Uruguay (9.15am; Kumamoto Prefectural Athletic Stadium, Kumamoto; ITV)

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