Rugby World Cup 2019: Two games cancelled as Super Typhoon Hagibis bears down on Japan

Agence France-Presse

Rugby World Cup organisers took the unprecedented step Thursday of cancelling two games - England versus France and New Zealand versus Italy - as Japan braces for Super Typhoon Hagibis, likely the biggest storm to hit the country this year.

Both games were in the projected path of the large and powerful typhoon, which currently has a "violent" rating - the highest category by Japan's weather bureau - and is due to hit the Tokyo area on Saturday.

Sunday's four games, including the Pool A shoot-out between hosts Japan and Scotland in Yokohama, near Tokyo, remain under review, said tournament director Alan Gilpin.

"We've taken the very difficult decision to cancel certain matches in the affected areas," Gilpin said.

"While it's regrettable, we've made, we believe, the right decision with everyone's safety as the priority," he added.

Tens of thousands of fans, many of them visitors from abroad, will be affected by the cancellations - the first in the tournament's 32-year history. Their tickets will be fully refunded, Gilpin said.

Japan, whose capital Tokyo hosts the Olympics next year, is battered by around 20 typhoons per year and is one of the world's most seismically active countries.

But Gilpin stressed he had "no regrets at all" about bringing the World Cup to Japan, the first Asian country to host the tournament.

"I think what you've all seen over the last three weeks absolutely in every respect vindicates the right decision to be hosting a World Cup here in Japan," he said.

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