Sports

Rugby World Cup matches called off due to typhoon risk

Rugby World Cup organisers were forced to call off matches for the first time in the tournament's 32-year history yesterday - eliminating Italy as a result - saying the risk from Typhoon Hagibis made hosting them an impossibility on safety grounds.

With the huge storm set to potentially devastate parts of Japan, Italy's game against New Zealand in Toyota and England's match against France in Yokohama tomorrow have been cancelled, while Japan's game against Scotland on Sunday is also in doubt.

The host nation would advance to the quarter-finals for the first time if their game in Yokohama is called off.

The sport's governing body World Rugby and tournament officials told a news conference the decision had been taken due to the huge disruption expected from the typhoon, predicted to be one of the most violent to hit the region in recent years.

Italy captain Sergio Parisse has slammed the decision, saying the game would have gone ahead if the All Blacks needed a win. The No. 8 added that it was "ridiculous" for organisers not to have an alternative to cancellation as "it isn't news that typhoons hit Japan".

Tournament director Gilpin defended the decision, saying "it's rare for there to be a typhoon of this size at this stage of the year". - REUTERS, AFP

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