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Rugby: NZ vs Italy, England vs France to be cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis

This Oct. 9, 2019 satellite photo taken by NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP satellite shows Typhoon Hagibis approaching Japan, top. (NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information System via AP)
International Stadium Yokohama (Nissan Stadium) in Yokohama. (Mainichi)
City of Toyota Stadium in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Two pool matches at the Rugby World Cup scheduled for Saturday will be cancelled due to a powerful typhoon that is expected to hit Japan over the weekend, the organizing committee said Thursday.

The organizers scrapped a Pool B match between New Zealand and Italy in Toyota, central Japan, and Pool C clash between England and France in Yokohama, near Tokyo. It is the first time for matches at a Rugby World Cup to be cancelled.

A final decision regarding Sunday's matches will be made on Sunday morning, the organizers said. Four games are scheduled for that day, including a Pool A clash between Japan and Scotland.

"This is a complex and dynamic situation which we have been monitoring extremely closely with the assistance of our weather information experts," said Alan Gilpin, World Rugby Chief Operating Officer and Tournament Director.

"While making every possible effort to put in place a contingency plan that would enable all of Saturday's matches to be played, it would be grossly irresponsible to leave teams, fans, volunteers and other tournament personnel exposed during what is predicted to be a severe typhoon," he said in a statement.

Spectators who have tickets to the cancelled matches will receive a full refund for the face value of their match tickets, the organizers said.

With the canceled match registered as a scoreless draw, the four teams that were expected to play Saturday will be awarded two points each in line with tournament rules.

England and France have already booked spots in the last eight, with the two points giving England first place in their pool. New Zealand will reach the quarterfinals but Italy will miss out.

A Pool A match between Ireland and Samoa on Saturday will be played as scheduled in Fukuoka, southwestern Japan, in addition to a Pool D match between Australia and Georgia in Shizuoka, central Japan, on Friday.

The Japanese weather agency has warned that Typhoon Hagibis is expected to make landfall on Japan's main island over the weekend.

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