World Rugby is caught in a moment of embarrassment not due to the super typhoon on its way to hit Tokyo but much rather due to their lack of having a contingency plan in place. In addition to that, the question has also been asked about why was the tournament schedule during typhoon season in this country. This is not an out of the ordinary event, and Japan is often experiencing this kind of weather but plans to have venues available on short notice to be able to proceed with games haven’t been put in place.
The games affected by the super typhoon heading to Japan are France who would have taken on England in Pool C and New Zealand and Italy would have taken on each other in Pool B. These games won’t be rescheduled and according to World Rugby rules, both teams will receive two points for the game which couldn’t be played. France was hoping to defeat England this weekend to rise to the top of Pool C. Now the chances of that happening has vanished, and this is creating a scenario where the integrity of the tournament is now being questioned.
The Italians were already at a point of elimination and their only chance of making the playoffs would have been if mathematically they could have managed to succeed by gaining enough points during their match against the All Blacks and preventing the New Zealanders from scoring another bonus point. Thus the cancellation of their game isn’t that detrimental since in 14 attempts Italy has never been able to defeat the current world champions.
Typhoon Hagibis is making landfall on Saturday and thus effecting both of Saturday’s games. Currently, the games set for Sunday is still set to continue since by then the typhoon would have passed Tokyo, but it can’t be said with certainty that there won’t be any structural damage which might prevent the matches to continue. Thus Sunday’s games might still also be cancelled.
This year is the first time in 32 years in which some of the matches have to be cancelled in the tournament. This is bringing a tremendous financial implication to World Rugby. The fact that around 200 000 tickets for these matches need to be refunded is only partial to the economic impact of the storm. Broadcasters have committed to broadcasting these games, and they might request compensation form World Rugby for this income loss. The expected number of viewers for the match between Japan and Scotland would have been one of the highest in history, and thus if the game has to be cancelled, the financial impact is tremendous.
Also in terms of the teams in the tournament, the outcome can be detrimental with at least three of the teams in the quarter-finals not being able to complete all their pool games. In the end, World Rugby couldn’t plan the weather, but they could have made better plans surrounding the tournament.