World Rugby warns fans not to travel to Canada v Namibia until match is confirmed in first update after typhoon
World Rugby has issued their first statement after Typhoon Hagibis swept through parts of Japan overnight, warning fans wanting to watch today’s first match between Canada and Namibia to wait until the status of the game is finalised before travelling.
Hagibis forced more than 170,000 evacuations and 370,000 homes have suffered power outages in Tokyo alone while the nationally circulated Yomiuri newspaper said this morning the storm’s casualty toll currently sits at two people dead, three missing and 62 injured.
Flights and train services were also suspended when the storm hit.
Now that Hagibis has blown through, World Cup organisers are evaluating the extent of the damage and have told fans to wait until they have made their final decision before headed to today’s first game between Namibia and Canada in Kamaishi, which is scheduled for a 4:15pm NZT kickoff.
“We continue to be in close contact with the city and the local authorities regarding the viability of hosting the match on Sunday as scheduled,” World Rugby said.
“We have advised the Namibia and Canada teams of the current situation and potential of cancellation, and our message to fans not currently in Kamaishi is not to travel before confirmation of the match status following a full assessment of the venue and associated infrastructure early on Sunday morning.
While that match has no impact on the tournament, it could give a gauge on how organisers will view the other three games today – most importantly, the final Test between Japan and Scotland to determine who reaches the quarter-finals.
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“Our primary consideration is the safety of everyone,” a World Rugby spokesperson said.
“We will undertake detailed venue inspections as soon as practically possible after the Typhoon has passed and an update will be published as soon as that process has been undertaken in the morning.”
World Rugby have said they will make a final decision on matches no later than six hours before a game’s scheduled kickoff, meaning the latest they can make a call on the Japan v Scotland game will be at 5:45pm NZT.
The Scotland Rugby Union have been vocal throughout the typhoon saga about the possibility of a cancellation in Yokohama which would knock them out of the tournament and have even threatened legal action if World Rugby cancel it instead of postponing.
“The last thing we want to do is get tied up in legal matters. There is now a legal opinion that supports our view there is flexibility on the scheduling,” SRU boss Mark Dodson said yesterday.
“We don’t want to criticise World Rugby, they’re running a first-class tournament, and I’m convinced they’ll do everything they can to get this game played on Sunday, and the weather at the moment looks like it’s slightly improving.
“What we’re asking for is a common-sense approach that allows this game to be played in perfect safety 24 hours after the storm clears.”
But World Rugby said that would be unfair to other teams, such as Italy who were in the same position as Scotland before their game with the All Black was cancelled.
“It is disappointing that the Scottish Rugby Union should make such comments at a time when we are doing everything we can to enable all Sunday’s matches to take place as scheduled.”