After extensive evaluation, World Rugby and the Japan Rugby 2019 Organising Committee has announced an update regarding the predicted impact of Typhoon Hagibis on this weekend’s Rugby World Cup 2019 pool matches. This includes the decision to cancel matches on safety grounds.
Based on the latest detailed information the tournament’s independent weather experts, 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.
As a result, World Rugby and the Japan Rugby 2019 Organising Committee has taken the difficult, but right decision to cancel matches in the affected areas on safety grounds. The impacted teams have been informed and are understanding. For matches that do not go ahead as scheduled, two points will be awarded to each team in line with tournament rules.
It is an exceptional, complex and rapidly evolving situation and team and public safety is the number one priority. This has been central in all decision-making in partnership with the tournament’s weather information experts, host cities, venues and teams.
Based on the latest detailed weather information, the following update is provided:
Friday 11 October
• Pool D match between Australia and Georgia in Shizuoka at 19:15 JST to be played as scheduled
Saturday 12 October
• Pool A match between Ireland and Samoa in Fukuoka at 19:45 JST to be played as scheduled
• Pool B match between New Zealand and Italy to be cancelled
• Pool C match between England and France to be cancelled
The decision to cancel matches has not been taken lightly and has been made in the best interests of public, team, tournament personnel and volunteer safety, based on expert advice and detailed weather information. Whilst we have extensively explored all options, public and team safety was our utmost priority as well as ensuring a consistent, fair and equitable outcome for all teams. All fans with tickets for a cancelled match will receive a full refund for the face value of their match tickets.
Sunday 13 October
• Every effort is being made to ensure Sunday’s matches will be played as scheduled. A thorough assessment of venues will take place after the Typhoon has passed before a final decision is made on Sunday morning.
Based on the advice of government authorities and experts, World Rugby and the Japan Rugby Organising Committee are advising fans in the Tokyo, Yokohama and City of Toyota areas to stay indoors on Saturday, not to travel and to keep monitoring the official Rugby World Cup 2019 digital and social channels, including the RWC 2019 Fan Information Twitter handle @Japan2019_ENG for regular updates.
World Rugby Chief Operating Officer and Tournament Director Alan Gilpin said when addressing the media: “This is a complex and dynamic situation which we have been monitoring extremely closely with the assistance of our weather information experts. We are now in a position to accurately predict the likely impact of Typhoon Hagibis on Rugby World Cup fixtures this weekend.
“While making every possible effort to put in place a contingency plan that would enable all of Saturday’s matches to be played, it would be grossly irresponsible to leave teams, fans, volunteers and other tournament personnel exposed during what is predicted to be a severe typhoon.
“As a result, we have taken the decision to cancel some matches in order to ensure the safety of all involved. It is the right thing to do, and comes with the support of all stakeholders, including the teams.
“We fully appreciate that England, France, New Zealand and Italy fans will be disappointed, but we trust they will appreciate that their safety must come first. They will be entitled to a full refund on their match tickets.
“Our message for all fans in Japan for Rugby World Cup is to heed all official advice, stay indoors throughout Saturday and do not attempt to travel on the day.”
Typhoon Hagibis Information
Four key facts
1. Typhoon Hagibis has developed outside of the regular typhoon season and is predicted by our weather information experts and the Japan Meteorological Agency to be of significant strength with significant impact when it makes landfall in the Tokyo area on Saturday afternoon / evening.
2. Faced with a weather event of this magnitude, the primary driver of our decision making is ensuring safety- the safety of our fans, teams, officials and workforce.
3. Over the last four days we have explored, in absolute detail, every possible permutation and scenario to try and play all the games this weekend. However, to be able to ensure safety, particularly in light of the potential severity of this typhoon and likely impact on transport infrastructure, we are cancelling two of our Saturday fixtures. NZL v ITA at City of Toyota (13:45) and ENG v FRA at Yokohama (17:15). Ticket holders will receive a full refund for the face value of their match tickets, the details of which will be announced shortly.
4. For Sunday’s matches we will investigate on Sunday morning once the storm has passed the condition of the four matchday stadia and make every effort where possible to stage these games. The decision will be made and then announced to the public as early as possible on Sunday morning.
Question and Answer
Q: Why this timing? A typhoon’s path and intensity can change? Is it not too early to call?
A: Our weather information clearly shows that this storm will have a wide front and will bring dangerous weather conditions from Kansai to Kanto across Saturday afternoon and evening. To ensure safety we have made this decision which I can assure you was difficult to make on many levels. However, we cannot put the safety of our fans, teams and workforce as risk by playing these matches on Saturday.
Q: If the weather information changes, would you change your mind on Toyota?
A: No. Public safety is our priority. This is a big storm. There are lots of movements of fans, teams, officials – it would be irresponsible to place the safety of people at risk.
Q: Why cancel now?
A: This is a significant storm. We have to take into account the latest weather information and made our decision accordingly. Let me stress that this is a decision not taken lightly. But life safety remains sacrosanct and when faced with such decisions we will always choose the option that doesn’t put the public and our teams at risk.
Q: How have the teams responded?
A: The teams understand the reasoning and how the decision has been arrived at. They too understand the need to protect the safety of the public as well as teams.
Q: What decisions have been made for Sunday?
A: At this point we are waiting to see the impact of the storm on our four match venues for Sunday before any decisions are made.
Q: What time will the Sunday decisions be made?
A: As there are many actions needed to be taken from a wide variety of stakeholders based on whatever the decision is for each match, we will look to announce as early as possible on Sunday morning once appropriate checks have been made regarding venue integrity, the safety and accessibility of stadium precincts and the operational capability and capacity of public transport.
Q Will they be played behind closed doors?
A: It is too early to speculate on the impact before the typhoon has occurred. We will try to get the matches played as scheduled, but appreciate that there may be travel and infrastructure challenges.
Q: There are six days to go before QFs. Has the OC considered to postpone matches?
A: While tournament rules state that a cancelled pool match cannot be postponed to a later date, we did look into the possibility of moving match venues or delaying matches in the best interest of tournament integrity and giving fans the opportunity to watch matches both in stadia and via broadcast. However, following detailed planning and running of multiple contingency scenarios we concluded we were not in a position to do so in a manner that could ensure life safety of the public and teams, and be fair and equitable to all teams playing over the weekend.
Q: Do you think this will have a negative effect on the perception of the tournament, particularly if Japan cannot play Scotland on Sunday?
A: The tournament has been an incredible success via every measure. From the moment tickets went on sale, teams began arriving and when games started being played. The goodwill among both domestic and visiting international fans is incredible, as it is amongst our teams. While it’s disappointing that games are being affected by the weather, people recognise its outside of anybody’s control and safety comes first. With a strong line-up of matches coming in the knockout phase this tournament will continue in the strong fashion it has started – amazing rugby and incredible fan engagement.
Q: Does World Rugby bringing the tournament to Japan at this time of year with the risk of Typhoons that has now been realised?
A: Firstly, Japan have been incredible hosts. The crowds in stadia, packed fanzones and record-breaking television audiences attest to this being a truly wonderful Rugby World Cup, even with another 3 weeks to play. In terms of the time of year and typhoon season, there is always risk with any host country around potential risk that could interrupt a tournament of this size. The challenge is to manage and mitigate risks and I think we have successfully done so for this tournament.
Q: Where can fans watch the matches?
The IRE v SAM game is FTA on NHK (JPN commentary).
AUS v GEO JSports 2
IRE v SAM JSports 2 & NHK (FTA)
NAM v CAN JSports 4 & NTV (FTA)
USA v TON JSports 2
WAL v URU Jsports 2
JPN v SCO Jsports 2 & NTV (FTA)
Q: When will fans be refunded the cost of match tickets?
A: We will communicate in the coming days to all affected ticket holders regarding the refund process. We will endeavour to ensure that this process is carried out as quickly and simply as possible.
Q: Many fans will be left deeply out-of-pocket after having paid for flights, accommodation and everything else related to coming all the way to Japan. What plans are there to compensate fans for such massive out-of-pocket expenses?
A: As per our ticketing terms and conditions only the face value of affected match tickets will be refunded. A weather event is an act of god and clearly not in our control as tournament organisers. While we recognise the disappointment of fans in this regard, financial compensation is not something we will be offering.
▪ Refunds will only be issued to the original purchaser of the tickets.
▪ Affected ticket purchasers will be emailed in the coming days regarding the refund process.
▪ Emails will be sent directly to the lead ticket purchaser from either JR2019, Official Travel Agents, Sports Travel and Hospitality Limited or World Rugby depending on how tickets were purchased.
▪ Full details of the refund process will be outlined in the email. We will endeavour to ensure that this process is carried out as quickly and simply as possible.
▪ As per ticketing terms and conditions only the face value of affected match tickets will be refunded. A weather event is an act of god and clearly not in our control. We recognise the disappointment of some fans in this regard, however financial compensation is not something we will be offering. This includes donations to ChildFund, postage and administration fees.