KOBE – The Springboks woke to blue skies and warm temperatures in Kobe on Thursday but a “super-typhoon” named Hagibis may end up deciding their quarterfinal opponents once it makes landfall on Japan on Saturday.
World Rugby on Thursday announced the cancellation of two matches scheduled to take place in Tokyo and adjacent Yokohama on Saturday because of the threat.The Pool B match between New Zealand and Italy is off, as is ‘Le Crunch’ between England and France, which would have decided the winners of Pool C.
It is the first time in Rugby World Cup history that matches have been cancelled.
Each team takes two points from the cancellation – which is treated is a 0-0 draw – which means that New Zealand are confirmed as Pool B winners, edging onto 16 points ahead of South Africa’s 15.
It also means that France – rather than England – are sent into South Africa’s half of the draw as runners up in Pool C.
However, the Springboks’ quarterfinal opponents remain unclear.
The Springboks will play the winner of Pool A.
Ireland’s match with Samoa in Fukuoka on Friday night (Japanese time) will continue as scheduled. If Ireland win that game, they will go top of Pool A.
Who joins them in the quarterfinal and in what position may then be dependent on Typhoon Hagibis.
Japan (currently top of Pool A) are scheduled to meet Scotland (currently third) in a winner-takes-all decider in Yokohama on Sunday.
If the game goes ahead and Scotland win, they would go through in second place (and meet New Zealand) while South Africa would play Ireland.
If Japan win – or the match is cancelled – Japan would top the pool and therefore meet the Springboks in the quarterfinals.
A decision on whether that match will go ahead will only be taken on Sunday, once the impact of the typhoon’s landfall has been assessed.
World Rugby said that Hagibis was predicted to be the biggest typhoon of the 2019 season and is “highly likely” to cause considerable disruption in the Tokyo, Yokohama and City of Toyota areas throughout Saturday, including likely public transport shutdowns.
They repeated government advice that fans in the Tokyo, Yokohama and City of Toyota areas stay indoors on Saturday and not travel.
Meanwhile, the Springboks are scheduled to travel to Tokyo on Monday – a plan that currently remains unchanged – but the training schedule for Kobe has been amended.
Saturday’s afternoon training session has been brought forward to the morning as there is a 100 percent chance of up to 50mm of rain arriving with strong winds in Kobe – which is 420 km to the southwest of Tokyo.
The Springboks’ quarterfinal is scheduled to take place at Tokyo Stadium (starts 12.15pm SA time) on Sunday, October 20.
African News Agency (ANA)