Super typhoon hits Rugby World Cup in Japan as England vs France called off - and Scotland's fate in balance

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Paul Davies

England's Rugby World Cup game against France has been called off as Japan braces to be hit by a super typhoon.

The storm could also see Scotland's must-win clash against the home nation cancelled - which would most likely see the Scots exit the tournament.

Typhoon Hagibis is on track to hit central and eastern regions over the three-day weekend, with potential damage from torrential rains and strong winds.

Organisers cancelled the England-France match planned for Saturday in Yokohama, near Tokyo, and the New Zealand-Italy game in Toyoda, in central Japan.

Scotland are due to play Japan on Sunday in Yokohama and as of Thursday morning, that game is still on. Scotland need to win - possibly with a bonus point - to make the quarter-finals.

Should the game be called off, both sides would get two points, likely meaning Scotland would be out as Ireland's game against Samoa in the same group is expected to go ahead in Fukuoka on Saturday, with the men in green hot favourites to win.

Credit: PA Graphics

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend urged organisers to pull out the stops to ensure the game went ahead somewhere.

He added: "It looks like the game will be played and that's what we have to keep faith with. (World Rugby) have made the call with a lot of certainty and a lot of confidence that the game will go ahead on Sunday night.

"I'd hope that everyone who is involved in the tournament would want the game to be played and that they will do all they can to ensure that it is.

"We have to have faith in the organisers that the game will be played even if it's behind closed doors or at a different venue."

Mark Burton brought his son Joshua to Japan to celebrate his 21st birthday and hoped to cheer on England against France.

Speaking to ITV News over Skype from Japan, Mark explained how he had bought the tickets well before his son's July birthday and only found out the game was called off when everyone's phone started "pinging" after landing.

"We were aware of the press conference that was going to take place while we were in the air," Mark said while sat next to his son, who has watched and followed rugby his entire life.

"It's a little bit frustrating but still an amazing city and it's going to be our first typhoon so we will see what that's all about."

Organisers also cancelled a marathon in Sendai and other northern coastal towns, and Formula One racing in Suzuka in central Japan may also be affected.

Hagibis, which means speed in Filipino, had maximum sustained winds of up to 270 kilometres per hour (168 miles per hour) and stronger gusts at noon on Thursday near Chichi island in the Pacific, about 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) off Tokyo’s southern coast.

It was moving north at a speed of 20kph (12mph) and is expected to weaken over cooler waters as it nears Japan’s main island.

It is the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane.

World Cup tournament director Alan Gilpin stated that the governing body's hand was forced by the danger posed by the storm

"As a result of this independent advice, we have taken the difficult and right decision in the affected areas," he said.

"As you can imagine the decision has not been taken lightly and is in the best interest of safety as a priority."

The typhoon is having an impact on the Rugby World Cup. Credit: Eugene Hoshiko/AP

England coach Eddie Jones said: "I think the Japanese have a saying - shogun-hi - we cant control it. It's not something you can control. This is the situation.

"I think it's a wonderful World Cup. You can't help typhoons, we would all like to think we've got the power above and beyond what's on the world at the moment, but we don't and these things happen and you just ride with it."

Jones sympathised wit many "disappointed faces" he has seen but pointed out there is some "great rugby" at the tournament, referencing the Wales vs Fiji game.

He is keeping upbeat about England's preparations and suggested the "typhoon Gods" may be smiling down on them.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said the typhoon is forecast to hit ashore in the Tokyo area late on Saturday and urged people to take precautions to avoid potentially life-threatening danger.

Japan’s central Pacific coast may see torrential rains beginning on Friday while high waves and tides may cause flooding.

Airlines and train services anticipate cancellations affecting holidaymakers travelling over the three-day weekend that includes the Sports Day holiday on Monday.

The approaching typhoon is spreading fear, especially in Chiba, near Tokyo, which was hit by Typhoon Faxai last month and where many residents are still recovering from damage to their homes.

The typhoon tore down many electrical poles and snapped cables, triggering extensive outages that lasted for weeks, contributing to heat illnesses and other health problems among elderly people.

The sheet-covered roofs of the houses damaged by Typhoon Faxai in Tateyama, near Tokyo Credit: Kyodo News via AP

East Japan Railway Company said it may suspend services on most local lines and bullet trains around Tokyo before the typhoon arrives.

Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways said they may ground flights as early as Friday depending on the typhoon’s movement.

Japan is regularly hit by Pacific storms, including Faxai in September.

Typhoon Jebi flooded a terminal and a runway at Kansai International Airport last year.