Typhoon Hagibis Chaos; Another Cancellation

Chris Wyatt, Kyoto, October 13th, 2019

DJCoil Rugby Disclaimer: Time will tell if Chris Wyatt’s prediction about this being a solo hosting of the Rugby World Cup in Japan is true. I can’t agree, as Japan were outstanding hosts in trying conditions. Contingency plans need to be addressed by World Rugby along with tournament organizers for match postponements instead of cancellations while being aware of the safety conditions of all.

Typhoon Hagibis has arrived but not yet departed central and east Japan where it has wreaked havoc.  The giant storm tore down power lines, crushed cars, damaged homes, and businesses, shut down all trains, injured dozens and possibly claimed at least one life.  For Rugby World Cup 2019, the massive storm claimed one more game with the cancellation early this morning of the Namibia – Canada game.

One could already see the effects of the storm a day prior to it making landfall in Shizuoka Prefecture with a heavy and constant downpour at the Wallabies vs Georgia game at Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa (in the direct path of the storm).  Thousands of prudent fans began streaming out of the stadium at the half to get to the shinkansen (bullet train) to avoid being trapped in the storm and unable to get anywhere on Saturday when all train service in east and central Japan was suspended.  The cancellation of flights at Tokyo’s Narita airport also added to the chaos as thousands of rugby fans could not get out or come into Japan via Tokyo this weekend.  Thousands of New Zealanders and Australians have planned to attend the Wallabies and then All Blacks games in order in Shizuoka and then Toyota City.  It was not to be.

Those originally headed back to Tokyo for the England – France game (also cancelled) wisely chose to stay west of the storm with many remaining in Kyoto with thousands of disappointed All Blacks or Italy supporters doing the same.  The shops and the main train station were full of Italians and Kiwis making the most of the rainy, dreary day in Kyoto.  As far as being stuck somewhere, there are far worse places to be.  However, the storm did cause a few problems with early closures and the Imperial Palace closed for the storm as well.

Rugby’s big day in Japan is rapidly shrinking as the final day of the pool stage is also impacted.  The cancellation of the Namibia game will not disappoint many outside Canada or Namibia, but it would have been an exciting match just the same with Namibia in good form, Canada struggling and the Welwitschias poised for a first-ever world cup win.  For now, there are still three games.  However, the Japan – Scotland game in Yokohama is still up in the air.  The cancellation of that game has major repercussions.  If World Rugby thought Sergio Parrise’s comments on the cancellation of Italy’s game against the All Blacks in Toyota City was a distraction, cancel the Scotland game and see the reaction.  Just imagine how many claymores will make an appearance if Scotland is bundled out of the quarterfinals with no opportunity to get themselves there.

Ultimately, the most important issue at hand is not rugby and nearly all fans here understand that and have been making the best of the turn of events.  Safety is the most important issue.  Hundreds of thousands are currently without electricity, many trains have yet to resume, thousands of Japanese have had heavy damage to homes and autos, dozens injured.  The organizing committee for this World Cup in Japan has done an amazing job putting it all together.  There have been some inconsistencies, but this happens at any major sporting event of this scale.  Yet despite their great job, the fantastic experience hundreds of thousands of foreign visitors, millions of Japanese and hundreds of millions of television viewers have had, one cannot help but think the committee’s description of the event was prescient: “once in a lifetime.”  The typhoon induced cancellations and chaos can’t help but make one wonder if the Rugby World Cup would ever come to Japan again.  I think not.  That is a shame.  Japan has done a brilliant job.  So now let’s shift our focus to another rising rugby nation and 2027: USA.

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2019 Rugby World Cup articles by Chris Wyatt for DJCoil Rugby include:

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Chris Wyatt is a guest journalist for DJCoil Rugby who is attending the 2019 Rugby World Cup. His periodic articles will provide another perspective for matches attended.

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North American Rugby News With A USA Slant