There’s a storm brewing at the Rugby World Cup – quite literally.
Typhoon Hagibis is expected to bring torrential rain and violent winds to southern Japan this weekend, potentially causing havoc to the final World Cup group stage matches.
The typhoon rapidly intensified on Monday as its wind speeds increased by 100 mph in 24 hours, upgrading Hagibis from a tropical storm to a super typhoon.
“The latest modeling by our weather information experts indicates that it is now tracking north and east and will bring strong winds and heavy rain to Tokyo and surrounding areas on 12 October,” said a statement from World Rugby, the sport’s governing body on Tuesday, which added that there is a “robust contingency program in place.”
If the weather is deemed too severe, matches will be canceled. In that case, the final result is declared a draw and each team receives two points, an outcome that could have a big impact on the tournament’s knockout draw.
If a match starts but is abandoned in the first-half, then a draw is also ruled, but if it is abandoned in the second-half then the score at the time the game is stopped is taken as the final score.
Were Ireland’s game against Samoa to be canceled and Scotland beats Russia and Japan in its final two pool games — picking up a four-try bonus point in one of those games — then Ireland, the world’s top-ranked team ahead of the tournament, would go out.
The players and coaches, however, are remaining resolute.
“Come on, we’re from Scotland,” said prop Gordon Reid, whose side faces a must-win game against host Japan in Yokohama Sunday.
“We have had worse weather – rain, hail, everything in one day. It doesn’t matter. It’s fine. We have coped well with a lot more.
“We are from Glasgow, from Ayrshire. We’re not as posh as some from Edinburgh, but we are from Scotland. We are used to this kind of thing. Whatever it is, rain or shine, snow, it doesn’t matter.”
Ireland forwards coach Simon Easterby was similarly unfazed.
“By all accounts things can change reasonably quickly,” he told reporters in Fukuoka. “But we are playing here on Saturday against Samoa unless we’re otherwise informed.”
England scrumhalf Ben Youngs did reveal that his team had been anticipating a change of game plan against France, utilizing the forwards and restricting the amount of long passes.
“There will be a lot of pick-and-goes from the forwards – if (the typhoon) arrives,” said Youngs.
“One thing (coach) Eddie (Jones) has always said is that we have to be adaptable and make sure we’re able to change things. When you wake up in the morning it could be different, so we’ll just have to wait and see.
“We’re anticipating rain and horrible conditions and we will train like that.”
Japan has a long history of withstanding typhoons.
In legend they are known as The Kamikaze – the divine winds – a reference to the two mighty typhoons placed providentially seven years apart which destroyed two separate Mongol invasion fleets in the 13th century.
The typhoon’s current trajectory suggests that it could also affect this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, although no plans to alter the race schedule have been put in place so far.