Amid the RWC match cancellations that have just been announced by World Rugby, the decision to call off England vs France and New Zealand vs Italy but, to only delay Japan against Scotland is the right call.
A press conference was called today in Tokyo, with UK media already speculating on the decisions. Now official, Robert Rees examines the ramifications on key Rugby World Cup matches.
No harmful ramifications to England vs France cancellation
By canceling Saturday’s England vs France, and the New Zealand vs Italy clashes, realistically all you take away is the ability for France or Italy to upset the odds and finish top of Pool C.
England were always likely to top the group and take on Australia, as France are destined to meet Wales. All that has changed is the extended delay between team’s last hit-out.
The risk of human welfare far outweighs the needs of RWC seeding on this occasion.
The typhoon awaiting Japan is predicted to be the strongest of the year, with wind gusts over 150 mph. Having thousands of fans, volunteers, players, coaches, media personnel and more at risk would be madness on a colossal scale.
Super Typhoon Hagibis, a formidable storm that is the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane, continued to track toward mainland Japan Wednesday as forecasters warned of the storm's potentially destructive impacts from wind, rain and storm surge: https://t.co/B0v0Vka9lK pic.twitter.com/cSuB3Ad95n
— AccuWeather (@breakingweather) October 9, 2019
The official media release from World Rugby stated, ‘After extensive evaluation, World Rugby and the Japan Rugby 2019 Organising Committee have announced an update regarding the predicted impact of Typhoon Hagibis on this weekend’s Rugby World Cup 2019 pool matches.
‘As a result, World Rugby and the Japan Rugby 2019 Organising Committee have taken the difficult, but right decision to cancel matches in the affected areas on safety grounds. The impacted teams have been informed and are understanding. For matches that do not go ahead as scheduled, two points will be awarded to each team in line with tournament rules.’
Note: Typhoon Hagibis will likely affect the Japanese Formula One race planned for Sunday.
Pool A final standings reliant on RWC match cancellations call
A delay in play to let the worst of the weather blow over is hardly an uncommon sight. You just don’t tend to see them on this scale. That is from the size of the weather event and, the importance of the 2019 tournament.
World Rugby stated ‘It is an exceptional, complex and rapidly evolving situation and team and public safety is the number one priority. This has been central in all decision-making in partnership with the tournament’s weather information experts, host cities, venues and teams.’
By determining that ‘team safety was our utmost priority as well as ensuring a consistent, fair and equitable outcome for all teams’. Equitable is now a term under scrutiny, both in the United Kingdom and in Japan.
The effect on the facilities is the main consideration – hence the Japan v Scotland game is a judgment call for Sunday morning. It means both teams must continue all preparations (as if the game we’re going ahead) and each side knows the ramifications are that much more vital, than the ENGvFRA or NZLvITA fixtures.
With Japan, Scotland and Ireland all within a shout of RWC qualification to the knockout stages, the match on Sunday between pool leaders and hosts Japan and Scotland; in fans minds, must go ahead.
Robert Rees believes that by delaying games until Monday, officials can assess any infrastructure damage and play on the same ground if safe. This would allow the three teams to play out and qualify fairly, not leaving a tint on what has been a tremendous World Cup to date.
World Rugby, however, have made it evidently clear after their October 10 press conference, that after two matches were canceled, then to ‘be fair’ that the same decision (and same conciliation points offered) would be the outcome on Sunday – if the game is canceled too.
Last Word on Rugby will keep followers up-to-date with the official announcement from World Rugby on Sunday, and views and analysis of the Pool standings and team’s placings.
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