England’s game against France and Italy’s clash with New Zealand have both been called off after World Rugby took the unprecedented step of cancelling the fixtures due to the impending arrival of Super Typhoon Hagibis.
Le Crunch was set for Saturday in Yokohama to decide who tops Pool C but the incoming typhoon was deemed too dangerous, and the All Blacks clash with Italy in Toyota has also been shelved as a result.
Scotland’s key encounter with Japan is still under threat on Sunday, also in Yokohama, but World Rugby have opted to delay their decision on that fixture until Sunday morning.
The Super Typhoon is expected to hit the capital on Saturday, ruling out Le Crunch but hopefully giving the organisers enough time to assess the damage and make a call on Scotland’s game on Sunday.
Tournament director Alan Gilpin said: “After extensive evaluation of the latest information, we are confirming adjustments to this weekend’s match schedule because of the significant impact of Typhoon Hagibis.
“Based on this morning’s advice, Hagibis is predicted to be the biggest of 2019 and highly likely to cause disruption in the Yokohama, Tokyo and Toyota area, including public transport shutdown.
“As a result of this independent advice, we have taken the difficult and right decision in the affected areas. Where pool matches do not go ahead, two points will be appointed to each team.
“As you can imagine the decision has not been taken lightly and in the best interest of safety as a priority.”
England therefore advance out of Pool C on top, and now can enjoy a two-week turnaround until their quarter-final against likely opponents Australia.
Head coach Eddie Jones said: “We can do a lot of different things mate. We are not concerned at all, we are excited, absolutely excited, a great opportunity.
“Who would have thought we would have two relatively easy games, one tough game and then two weeks to prepare for a quarter-final. So someone is smiling on us — the typhoon gods maybe?”
Fans will be entitled to full refunds for their match tickets, but there are still some unhappy faces.
The Azzurri in particular do not get to say farewell some of their legends in Sergio Parisse, Leonardo Ghiraldini and Alessandro Zanni.
Italy head coach Conor O’Shea said: “Clearly everyone is down because we wanted to have the chance to play against New Zealand.
“I’m finding it really difficult and I saw the players’ reaction after training and it was horrible because these guys have given their lives to Italian rugby and their World Cup has ended on the training pitch, when it should be on the playing field.
“For the World Cup not to finish in front of the fans on the pitch, in front of the fans watching on TV in Italy, it is a hard day for all of us and difficult to put into words.
“I feel bad for Sergio and the whole squad not to have the possibility to finish their World Cup on the pitch in front of the fans, and then together in the changing room. To have to accept it won’t be the case is really, really hard to take.”
For Scotland, they must wait to find out their fate in what would be one of the marquee matches of the pool stages against Japan.
Akira Shimazu, the organising committee’s chief executive said: “We will look at the typhoon damage and consider its impact, but we would also like to consider the safety of the spectators.
“I know people really want to see the match so we will do our best to make sure they are able to do that.”