World Rugby has announced the cancellation of two of its World Cup matches as Typhoon Hagibis threatens host nation Japan.
England’s match with France, as well as New Zealand’s clash with Italy will both be cancelled, with each team receiving two points. The governing body says that the decision to cancel the matches was taken after ‘extensive evaluation’, and was ultimately based on safety grounds.
World Rugby and the Japan Rugby Organising Committee have also issued advice to fans in Tokyo, Yokohama and Toyota City to stay indoors and to avoid travel as a result of the typhoon.
The decision to cancel games and award a draw will have an impact on the tournament, with England qualifying as group winners ahead of France, and Italy unable to qualify for the quarter finals.
There has not yet been a decision made on Scotland’s crucial showdown with Japan, where the Scottish team’s hopes of qualification rest on a victory, unless rivals Ireland lose to Samoa.
World Rugby Chief Operating Officer and Tournament Director Alan Gilpin said: "This is a complex and dynamic situation which we have been monitoring extremely closely with the assistance of our weather information experts. We are now in a position to accurately predict the likely impact of Typhoon Hagibis on Rugby World Cup fixtures this weekend.
"While making every possible effort to put in place a contingency plan that would enable all of Saturday’s matches to be played, it would be grossly irresponsible to leave teams, fans, volunteers and other tournament personnel exposed during what is predicted to be a severe typhoon.
"As a result, we have taken the decision to cancel some matches in order to ensure the safety of all involved. It is the right thing to do, and comes with the support of all stakeholders, including the teams.
"We fully appreciate that England, France, New Zealand and Italy fans will be disappointed, but we trust they will appreciate that their safety must come first. They will be entitled to a full refund on their match tickets.
"Our message for all fans in Japan for Rugby World Cup is to heed all official advice, stay indoors throughout Saturday and do not attempt to travel on the day."