11 Oct 2019

Rugby World Cup: All Blacks ready to ride out typhoon

5:52 pm on 11 October 2019

After a day of tensions over the impact of Typhoon Hagibis for Rugby World Cup players and officials, the All Blacks say they are preparing to hunker down to ride out the typhoon.

All Blacks Captain Kieran Read at a press conference this week.

All Blacks Captain Kieran Read at a press conference this week. Photo: PhotoSport

With their slim quarterfinal hopes squashed by the cancellation of tomorrow's match against the All Blacks, Italy are expressing disappointment about double standards from World Rugby officials.

Scotland, meanwhile, are reportedly incensed at the potential cancellation of their crucial encounter with hosts Japan on Sunday.

Safely through to the quarterfinals, the All Blacks are happy enough as they go about their adjusted preparation for the knockout stages at the Rugby World Cup.

But not everyone is so content.

Angry Scottish officials are reportedly gearing up to take serious action to ensure their crunch clash with Japan goes ahead.

A cancellation would almost certainly send the Scots home - a fate already suffered by an Italian side who won't get a crack at the world champions.

Azzuri captain Sergio Parisse is crying hypocrisy - but All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock says claims the game wouldn't have been called off if it was New Zealand who needed to win to progress are simply untrue. Prisse is Italy's most capped player and among the most capped players in the world with 142 appearances.

"I can't say I have spent a lot of time, but what he has done is pretty awesome," said Whitelock. "I think it is a bit of frustration coming out, which we are all feeling as well."

Italy are feeling robbed of the chance to fight for a quarter-final place.

But Whitelock insists the All Blacks had no say in the decision to cancel the game.

"We would have loved to have played but it is out of our control; we don't make those decisions, they come from higher up. It is a tough one and we are feeling for those players as well."

World Rugby, meanwhile, issued a statement to various media saying it looked at all contingencies but decided it could not delay the games.

While the decisions are being criticised in some quarters - a day closer to Typhoon Hagibis making landfall - they seems to be bang on based on updated predictions.

The powerful storm is set to batter the Japanese capital with the heaviest rain in 60 years; it has also disrupted a Formula One Grand Prix and is raising fears of transport chaos.

Typhoon Hagibis, which means "speed" in the Philippine language Tagalog, is due to make landfall on the main island of Honshu on Saturday, a month after one of the strongest typhoons to hit Japan in recent years destroyed or damaged 30,000 houses and caused extensive power cuts.

"The typhoon could bring record-level rainfall and winds," an official at the Japan Meteorological Agency told a news conference.

The storm could be the strongest to hit Tokyo since 1958 and people should also prepare for high waves and storm surges, the JMA said.

By the time the storm sweeps through - the All Blacks will be back at their Tokyo base.

That sets them up for a normal Test week from Monday.

Whether their quarterfinal opponent will be known by then remains to be seen, with the Japan v Scotland clash on Sunday also in doubt.

The risk of being underdone for the sudden death clash, though, is the bigger issue - and outside back Ben Smith says they're likely to have a game among themselves to replicate the intensity of a match.

"They are pretty full on. I remember before the last World Cup we had a similar game and it is pretty full on."

Although less serious - the cancellations also have impacts back in New Zealand.

Spark Sport aren't commenting on the issue of whether it would get a refund from rugby authorities for viewers - except to say it is in close contact with World Rugby as matters develop.

The TAB have confirmed they will make refunds - for bets already made on the two matches cancelled so far.

But the TAB's Mark Stafford admits not everyone is happy.

"They are disappointed that they thought they were onto a winner then they just get their money back.

"One guy tried to tell me that we should pay out on a draw but, no, we can't pay out for a game that is not taking place."

The situation means the All Blacks will have had almost two weeks without a game by the time their quarter-finals roll around.

But Whitelock says they're used to long spells between games, and it won't affect their preparation.

"We do it at Rugby Championship, have two weeks and then come back. So hopefully we will be in a good space."

For now, though, as Hagibis hones in, that space will be battoning down the hatches at their Tokyo hotel.

And following the advice given by government officials over hagibis, Ben Smith says they won't be leaving the premises.

"It's probably a bit of the unknown; we are not sure about typhoons. We will be hunkering down tomorrow and see what happens."

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