England star Mako Vunipola feared his family was caught up in Typhoon Hagibis

The Sun Sports 1 month ago

MAKO VUNIPOLA was praying for his family as they were caught in the middle of super Typhoon Hagibis smashing its way through Tokyo.

The England prop’s dad, auntie and cousins were in Japan’s capital and hunkering down as 160mph winds surged through the metropolis, bringing chaos and devastation.

Mako Vunipola admits he feared his family would get caught up in Typhoon Hagibis

On the same day Vunipola was training in sun-kissed Miyazaki with his World Cup team-mates after their game with France fell victim to the shocking storm.

But the 28-year-old was thinking of his family who were 600 miles north and part of the millions of people dealing with the horrors of the worst weather to hit here in 60 years.

After England fled to the island of Kyushu, Vunipola said: “We have families and friends in Tokyo.

“That was probably the hardest thing to deal with — realising that the game wouldn’t be on and trying to make plans for them.

“Japan is used to typhoons and have regulations to deal with them, so it’s a case of doing as they’re told and us hoping and praying they’re safe.

“We are very lucky to be here and I just hope everyone is safe. My partner came over but went back before the game.

“My dad has just arrived and my aunties and cousins also came. We’re talking to them as much as we can.  I have only just found out the typhoon has hit quite big.

“I hope the damage isn’t too much and people are OK. You’re focused on rugby but you know it’s not the be-all and end-all, especially when you see things like this.

“You worry for people’s safety and pray nothing serious does happen.

“It’s all about safety, which is why they’ve made that call and we’re not playing today.”

England scrambled out of Tokyo on Thursday as tournament chiefs scrapped their game which was due to be played at Yokohama Stadium — the same venue for Scotland’s crunch clash with Japan today.

Hooker Jamie George said his friends and family have been forced to drastically change their plans as a result.

He said: “My parents left on Thursday when we found out there wasn’t a game.

“They’ve flown back to be with my brother who lives in Bangkok, and my girlfriend has headed out of Tokyo with a few of the other girls. It’s very difficult circumstances.”

Forwards coach Steve Borthwick — who lived in Tokyo for three years as part of Eddie Jones’ Japan backroom staff — said: “Firstly you want to make sure everyone is safe, hopefully this storm passes and there’s minimal damage.

“In Japan they’re very resilient and they’re prepared for different types of incidents. They’ve had to go through a lot.

“My little boy was taught at pre-school that if he heard the earthquake alarms to climb under the table.”

Recalling their emergency evacuation, Vunipola said: “It’s been chaos, in terms of logistics. It was quick.

“We had an idea that it might happen but I didn’t really think there was a chance the game would be cancelled.

“Eddie Jones spoke to us and made it very clear what the plan was going to be.

“I was a bit gutted because I had worked hard. You want to play for your country as much as you can but this has happened and we’re here now.

“Before we came to the World Cup, we spoke about it and said this could be a reality, and now it has happened.

“It’s a case of getting ready for it, dealing with it and moving on as soon as possible.”

England look to set to face Australia in the last eight.

Boss Jones could also have Vunipola’s bigger but baby brother Billy, 26, to pick from as the No 8 stepped up his recovery from the ankle injury he suffered against Argentina.

England have beaten the Wallabies six times out of six under ex-Aussie boss Jones.

And Mako Vunipola senior added: “We’re confident in what we have here and confident in what we can do.”

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