Photos: Getty Images/NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory

Cheat sheet: World Cup games cancelled as super typhoon looms over Japan

The organisers of the Rugby World Cup have made the unprecedented decision to cancel two of the final pool games, citing safety concerns as a super typhoon threatens Japan.


What’s this? Rugby CANCELLED? In my day we walked six miles barefoot in the snow to play rugby. The goal posts were made from old coat hangers and the ball was fashioned from rags and…

YEP GOT IT THANKS. Here’s the deal: Super Typhoon Hagibis is approaching Japan, and two Rugby World Cup pool games have been cancelled because of it – New Zealand v Italy, which was due to be played on Saturday night in the City of Toyota, near Nagoya, and England v France, which was set for the same night in Yokohama. 

Super Typhoon what now? 

Hagibis – it’s the Filipino word for velocity or swiftness, and also the name of a disco group once dubbed the Village People of the Philippines.

Bad storm then is it? 

‘Tis. It intensified from a tropical storm to the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane in just 18 hours, freaking out the experts. It’s expected to pass along the east coast of Japan on Saturday evening and meteorologist Jeff Masters told The New York Times that if it proceeds as predicted, it could become one of the most damaging typhoons in Japanese history. Trains and other public services are being cancelled.

Surely it can’t be worse than watching the All Blacks beat Australia 43-6 at the top of the Millard Stand of Athletic Park in a howling southerly in 1996?

It will almost certainly be worse than that. Or not. Who’s to say. Maybe we should ask Ken Ring?

Please don’t. So what’s going to happen with the bloody rugby?? 

Both cancelled games will be recorded as 0-0 draws and each team will receive two points, which will knock Italy out of the tournament. The ABs will finish the first round at the top of Pool B. Pool C’s England and France have both already qualified for the quarterfinals. 

Any other games affected?

Sunday’s matches are still up in the air, with a decision to be made on Sunday morning. As the Guardian reports, the stakes are particularly high for Scotland, who, assuming Ireland beats Samoa in Fukuoka on Saturday (that game’s going ahead), will be eliminated if their game against Japan is cancelled.

What does it mean for our boyz?

Well, as Patrick McKendry writes in the Herald, a game against Six Nations member Italy would have been good prep before the ABs move into the serious shit. It’s all about conditioning, you see. They were due to travel to Nagoya, 300km south of Tokyo, on Friday and return on Sunday, but they’ll now stick around in Tokyo. 

So back to this storm. What even IS a typhoon?

Typhoons, cyclones and hurricanes are actually all the same thing. I know, whaaaat?! But different terms are used in different parts of the world. Typhoon is used for storms that develop in the northwestern Pacific and usually threaten Asia. 

There seems to have been a lot of these crazy storms around lately… 

Indeed. Last year, Japan was hit by Jebi, the worst typhoon in 25 years. It killed 11 people, injured hundreds, prompted government evacuation orders for about 49,000 people and caused an estimated US$12.6 billion in damage. 

Is the climate crisis to blame? 

Looks like it. As the NYT reports, an increasing number of strong storms and greater rainfall are generally linked to global warming. Meteorologist Jeff Masters said that scientists have found that typhoons in the Northwest Pacific are reaching their maximum intensities farther north than they used to, increasing the risk to Japan.

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