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Confirmed: England v France cancelled as Japan braces for typhoon

The cancellations – unprecedented in the World Cup’s 32-year history – will not affect the rankings in Pool C and means Australia are almost certain to play England in the first quarter-final match at Oita Stadium on October 19.

The Rugby World Cup organising committee held a media briefing in Tokyo at 2pm AEDT on Thursday.

France are likely to be furious as it robs them of the chance to top Pool C and play the runner-up of Pool D (likely to be Australia), thereby setting up a potentially easier path through the final four.

World Cup tables on October 10. (Only top four teams per pool shown.)

World Cup tables on October 10. (Only top four teams per pool shown.)

England sit atop Pool C on 15 points with France on 13 points. Argentina’s win over USA on Wednesday afternoon was not enough to help them qualify for the knockout stages. The 2015 semi-finalists will exit the tournament in coming days.

The Pool B clash between New Zealand and Italy is also reportedly set to be cancelled.

In Pool D, Australia and Wales are guaranteed quarter-final spots. The only way the Wallabies could top the pool is if they beat Georgia on Friday and the Welsh lose to Uruguay on Sunday.

If Australia beat Georgia and the Wales v Uruguay game in Kumamoto is also called off, it will make no difference to the final pool standings, with the Wallabies and Wales level on points but Wales on top, having beaten Australia in the pool stages.

Hagibis is expected to deliver lashing rain and damaging winds of up to 270km/h, hitting Japan’s southern island of Honshu over the weekend.

Games in Yokohama are expected to be the worst affected, including the Pool C game between England and France on Saturday and the Pool A showdown between Japan and Scotland on Sunday.

Scotland hammered Russia 61-0 in Shizuoka on Wednesday to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Scotland hammered Russia 61-0 in Shizuoka on Wednesday to keep their playoff hopes alive. Credit:AP

The Brave Blossoms are closing in on a historic quarter-final berth, topping the pool on 14 points with Ireland on 11 and Scotland on 10.  Assuming Ireland beat Samoa in Fukuoka on Saturday, the winner of Sunday’s game in Yokohama will determine which teams go through to the knock-out rounds.

It was initially thought World Rugby was planning to move the Scotland v Japan game down to Oita Stadium, which has a roof.

But on Thursday morning sources were indicating that organisers were hoping to proceed with the marquee fixture – the final game of the pool stages – in the same stadium, 24 hours after the England v France game was to take place.

Wales snuffed out any slim hopes of a Fijian quarter final presence with a win in Oita on Wednesday.

Wales snuffed out any slim hopes of a Fijian quarter final presence with a win in Oita on Wednesday. Credit:Getty

On Wednesday afternoon, Scotland coach Gregor Townsend said his side was preparing as usual for the game.

“I had a look at the weather app and it does look like it is heading into Tokyo this weekend,” Townsend said after his team’s 61-0 bonus point win over Russia. “It is a few days away and it could miss the Tokyo area or could still go there.”

Tournament rules state that any pool game that cannot be played will not be rescheduled and instead be recorded as a 0-0 draw, with bonus points unavailable. That would ensure Scotland fail to reach the quarter-finals for just the second time in the tournament’s history.

Townsend said he was unsure whether World Rugby had back-up plans. Earlier on Wednesday, media reports suggested the England v France game would be moved to Oita.

“We will be getting updates from World Rugby over the next two days over what the contingencies are,” Townsend said.

“I am sure that alternative venues or arrangements are being looked at. Not just our game, but England and France play in the same stadium the night before.

“I don’t know if that’s getting looked at for the Ireland-Samoa game [on Saturday] as well, with it being first forecast as [hitting] Fukuoka.”

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Townsend said he felt his players had done what was required on Wednesday to put themselves in a position to dash the hopes of the tournament hosts of reaching the knock-out stages for the first time.

“It was a tough game,” Townsend said. “The scoreline doesn’t suggest that, but the effort that went into getting that scoreline by putting pressure on the Russian defence to open up spaces was huge from my players.

“Getting the bonus point … we knew that, if we hadn’t got that, Sunday would have been difficult, so getting that was excellent.

“Getting a big score will also keep things interesting for Saturday, as well with the Ireland-Samoa game.

“But also for the confidence – the players know that for two games now we haven’t conceded a point, that’s very encouraging.”

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