THERE’s a storm brewing Japan as the Rugby World Cup approaches a critical stage.
With sides battling it out for a place in the knockout rounds, Typhoon Hagibis could be about to wreak havoc on the sporting calendar.
And England’s match against France is top of the list of those set to be postponed.
What happens if Typhoon Hagibis cancels matches?
FORMING at the south of Japan, Typhoon Hagibis has rugby and F1 chiefs on red alert.
The storm is set to bring powerful winds and torrential rain to the mainland – but it’s course over the next few days is not clear.
Japan’s Meteorological Agency (JMA) expect the storm to reach the highest level on their charts and is currently classified as ‘violent’.
They revealed: “It could be the strongest to hit Japan this year.”
The typhoon is currently predicted to hit the southern island of Kyushu on Saturday, where two Rugby World Cup matches are being held at the weekend.
Any games cancelled at the World Cup because of the weather are registered as scoreless draws.
They will not be re-scheduled if called off on the day of the game, but organisers could potentially change the venue or kick-off time before game-day.
England’s showdown with France in Yokohama could be affected – and chiefs will be desperate to avoid any 0-0 draws.
Red Rose assistant coach Scott Wisemantel said: “Regarding the typhoon we have no control over the weather and we have to prepare for the game and see how it goes.
“Regarding the permutation around the game and shared points we are just concentrating on playing to win.
“I live in a bubble and I don’t know where the game would be played.
“One thing I have learnt in Japan is that they prepare for the worst and then usually it doesn’t eventuate.”
Ireland face Samoa and will be looking for a victory to reach the quarter-final stages.
Whilst Wales – who play Uruguay in Kumamoto on Sunday – can make sure of their place in the knockouts with midweek victory over Fiji.
Wales coach Warren Gatland told the BBC: “We’ve had some updates in the past from World Rugby about potential weather stuff, and we will deal with that when it comes.
“We won’t be thinking about that, we will just be focusing on the game.”
How could England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales be affected?
England vs France is set to be the first Rugby World Cup match in history to be cancelled, writes SunSport’s Jonny Fordham.
There is also an option to move it 600 miles south to Oita, but cancellation now appears to be the most likely option.
If the match is cancelled and registered as a draw, it would mean that England would automatically finish top of the pool and France in second.
A cancellation of Scotland’s match against Japan due to Typhoon Hagibis would have severe ramifications for Gregor Townsend’s men.
With two points each being awarded for a 0-0 draw, Scotland would have no way of finishing above the Japanese and would have to hope Ireland fail to earn even a bonus point against Samoa.
If Ireland vs Samoa is cancelled and Japan vs Scotland goes ahead, the Irish could face elimination.
The two points awarded for a draw against Samoa would leave see a Scottish victory knock the Irish out.
Wales are already through but will be hoping their match against Uruguay goes ahead.
If Australia beat Georgia with a bonus point on Friday and Wales vs Uruguay is cancelled then the Aussies will top the group and set up a potential Welsh semi-final with New Zealand.
How big is it?
THE storm is predicted to move in a north-westerly direction as the week progresses.
This would see it hit mainland Japan – but weather forecasters agree that it would weaken when on land.
Winds are gusting up to 195mph in the giant storm, which by some predictions could hit Tokyo.
Japan sees around 20 typhoons every year, although they do tend to vary in both strength and impact.
Currently, it is classed as “violent”, which is the highest level of severity on Japan’s typhoon charts.