All Blacks fans in Japan gutted to be missing World Cup game

5:08 pm on 11 October 2019

A New Zealander living in Tokyo says residents are being urged to stock up on food, water and batteries as the typhoon that's forced the cancellation of some Rugby World Cup games approaches the country's coast.

All Black fans celebrate before kick-off at the RWC 2015 final.

Representational photo. Photo: PhotoSport

Typhoon Hagibis is bearing down on Japan, and two pool matches tomorrow, including the All Blacks game against Italy, have been called off because of it.

A New Zealander living in Tokyo, Motoko Kakubayashi, told Morning Report residents were being urged to stock up on food, water and batteries in preparation.

"People are quite upset. A lot of people did buy tickets to go see the All Blacks on Saturday so they're quite upset they won't be able to see the world champions on stage," Ms Kakubayashi said.

She said some train and airline services were cancelled tomorrow and people had been asked to stay indoors.

New Zealander Vasanthy Bradley who had tickets to this weekend's All Blacks game told Morning Report she wasn't aware of alerts to remain indoors.

"We're stuck in this hotel now for three nights and flying off to Singapore on Sunday morning. We tried to see if we could get out of here before the storm hit but all the flights are fully booked apparently on Singapore Airlines to Singapore ... so we're stuck."

She said people didn't seem to be too worried. "Saturday will tell I guess."

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen was sanguine about the cancellation.

"It's frustrating, but the reality is we can't control the weather. So it comes down to a decision on whether we charge on and put peoples' lives at risk or do we change and work out the consequences."

He singled out the Rugby World Cup in Japan for special praise, despite the cancellations.

"This has been a marvellous tournament. There has been some great rugby played. There has been great support. Stadiums have been almost filled to capacity.

"It is always a risk at this time of year. But this has been a great tournament. If you play it earlier you run the risk of people dying on the football field because it would be 40C. If you play it later, it ends up finishing at Christmas and Santa Claus giving out the Cup."

All Blacks captain Kieran Read and All Blacks coach Steve Hansen following the 16-16 draw with South Africa in Wellington on 27 July 2019

All Blacks captain Kieran Read and coach Steve Hansen. Photo: Photosport

All Blacks captain Kieran Read said he understood the issues of safety but also did feel sorry for the fans missing out on the games.

"More so for the fans ... Kiwis who have turned up and [will] miss out."

Out on the streets of Tokyo, the reaction was mixed. Some felt that World Rugby was absolutely correct to cancel the games due to the need for personal safety. Others felt that more could have been done by organisers to have a Plan B if a typhoon hit.

One fan said: "It's all about personal safety. I want to see a game but it is not worth losing life over."

Another said: "There's nothing that can be done about it. Unless they can shift it somewhere else - there's a typhoon coming and safety is the number one issue."

And another fan: "It is a safety issue. People have to be kept safe."

But others spoken to by RNZ were frustrated.

"You don't want to come to a major tournament and see all these games cancelled. It's a terrible look. I don't think it's good for the tournament and I don't think it reflects well on World Rugby."

Another disgruntled fan said; "We have come a long way; it costs a lot of money. Personally, I think all matches should be played. It sets a precedent for this world cup which could be used in the future.

"They should've moved the stadiums - forget about the fans, it's about the rugby and the honesty of the game."

But there was little support for Scotland whose game against Japan is in the balance. The Scots are facing the prospect of heading home if the game is cancelled.

One fan put it like this: "Scotland will get over it. They are used to being knocked out early in tournaments anyway."

One England rugby supporter said: "If the Scotland game was called off, I'd be thrilled. The Scots are going home. I'd be at the airport to wave goodbye."

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