Japan was rocked by Typhoon Hagibis over the weekend forcing World Rugby to take the unprecedented decision to cancel the fixtures that were due to be played in the areas under most threat. There was a lot of criticism over this move, but the devastation caused by the storm, proved that the right decision was made, putting safety first.
The problem for the World Cup as a competition is that there was no plan B to get the games re-scheduled, moving to a different day or venue.
The cancelled games were – New Zealand Vs Italy, England Vs France & Namibia Vs Canada. The only one of these that will have zero effect on the outcome of the tournament is the latter. The two sides were both already out with no further involvement to come after their match-up with each other. However, there will still be disappointment, as this was both Namibia and Canada’s one real chance to pick up a victory at this event, and even to claim another World Cup cap is still an achievement. The Canadian players spent their free time gained from the cancellation, helping with the tidy up after the typhoon, which was great to see.
The only team that were definitely damaged by their match getting called off was Italy. They were still in the competition going into their final pool game, and although they were given very little hope in turning over New Zealand, they at least deserved the chance like anybody else. The Italians might be able to take comfort in saying they held the All Blacks to a 0-0 draw, but I’m sure they would have preferred after all the training put in, having a shot at the upset, and stranger things have happened.
England and France were both already qualified, although their match would have determined the winners and runners-up of Pool C. This could have changed the route through the draw, but maybe the main issue now is that they will go into a quarter-final on the back of a two week break against teams that are match sharp. There is a theory that the extra rest could be an advantage, but anyone that is tired at the quarter-final stage of a World Cup doesn’t have much hope of going all the way. Teams with serious credentials of lifting the title are prepared and primed for 4 group games followed by the knock-outs, and to have a match taken away is more likely to hinder than help their chances.
One match that was in major doubt but did get the go ahead was Japan Vs Scotland. It was amazing after the scenes from the previous day that the game could get played and what a game it turned out to be. Scotland put up a great fight, but Japan were brilliant and thoroughly deserved topping their group.
Hopefully it will be all about the action on the pitch from here on in, and it should be, looking at the exciting quarter-final line-up. All four games could be crackers.
England V Australia
New Zealand V Ireland
Wales V France
Japan V South Africa
Written by Matthew Drew