Two of the stand-out sides and probably the current favourites to win the World Cup are affected by the World Rugby decision early on Thursday morning to cancel two of the remaining pool matches as a result of Typhoon Hagibis – and another may follow.
They are the matches between England and France (Pool C) and New Zealand and Italy (Pool B) which were both scheduled for Saturday.
It means that in Pool C, France will be denied the chance to win the group by beating England, though the latter will have been overwhelming favourites to win the game.
Although the match between the All Blacks and Italy are between two sides in South Africa’s pool, it will not directly affect the Springboks progress to the quarterfinals. The two points that the All Blacks get for the cancelation of the match which is declared a 0-0 draw, move them above South Africa to top of the pool.
Italy were underdogs, but an unlikely win with a bonus point and denying the All Blacks one would have seen them move above the All Blacks on count-out with the Boks topping the pool.
A decision on Scotland versus Japan will be taken on Sunday, the day the match is scheduled to take place. It will also be cancelled if conditions are still bad. That will deny Scotland a chance of qualifying by beating log leaders Japan.
♦ However, barring some highly unlikely results New Zealand and South Africa will each play one of Japan, Scotland and Ireland in the quarterfinals. Wales will play France, unless they lose to Uruguay in a huge upset, and England will play Australia.
♦ It is the first time in the competition's 32-year history a match has been called off prior to kick-off. It means the games will go down as 0-0 draws and tens of thousands of fans will miss out on matches they have planned to attend.
World Rugby in their statement said: "Hagibis is predicted to be the biggest typhoon of the 2019 season and is highly likely to cause considerable disruption in the Tokyo, Yokohama and City of Toyota areas throughout Saturday, including likely public transport shutdown or disruption.
"It is an exceptional, complex and rapidly evolving situation and team and public safety is the number one priority. All fans with tickets for a cancelled match will receive a full refund for the face value of their match tickets."