World Cup organisers tight-lipped over typhoon plans

TOKYO • Rugby World Cup officials said yesterday it would be inappropriate to reveal their contingency plans should Super Typhoon Hagibis cause disruption to this weekend's final group of pool fixtures.

The fierce tropical storm, predicted to be the most violent to hit Japan this year, appears to have changed direction and is now predicted to strike the Tokyo area, instead of Fukuoka and Kumamoto.

Hagibis is currently classed as "violent", with gusts as strong as 270kmh. It is forecast to weaken before it makes landfall, but the Japan Meteorological Agency still expects it to be "very strong".

England are due to play France on Saturday while Japan, who are aiming to make the knockout phase for the first time, take on Scotland on Sunday, with both games being played in nearby Yokohama.

Tournament rules state that any pool game that cannot be played is not rescheduled and instead is recorded as a 0-0 draw, with no bonus points available.

Such an outcome, however unlikely, would suit Japan and England, sending both into the quarter-finals as pool winners, while eliminating Scotland. France, who have already qualified, will go through as runners-up.

Earlier in the tournament, when another typhoon threatened a match in Fukuoka, organisers said they would have used an alternative venue.

However, organisers yesterday would not elaborate as to whether they would try to do the same this weekend.

"Public and team safety is our No. 1 priority. While we have robust contingency plans in place for pool matches, such plans, if required, will only be actioned if the safety of teams, fans, and workforce can be guaranteed," the statement said.

"It would be inappropriate to comment on any contingency plans at this stage.

"We will continue to closely monitor this developing situation in partnership with weather information experts, local authorities, transport providers and the teams, and provide a further update tomorrow."

A change in course is, however, not unusual for typhoons nearing Japan, which sees around 20 a year and Hagibis could also continue its easterly track and miss the country altogether.

Should weather problems persist, tournament rules allow for knockout games to be rescheduled.

However, Gordon Reid is not concerned by the prospect of torrential rain, with the Scotland prop joking "we're from Glasgow... we've coped with a lot more".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 09, 2019, with the headline World Cup organisers tight-lipped over typhoon plans. Subscribe