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Bracing for impact at Rugby World Cup as typhoon nears Japan

Surging waves hitting against the breakwater as Typhoon Hagibis approaches at a port in Kumano, Mie Prefecture, Japan Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019.
Surging waves hitting against the breakwater as Typhoon Hagibis approaches at a port in Kumano, Mie Prefecture, Japan Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019. AP Photo

With two games already canceled and the prospect of more disruptions as the worst typhoon of the year bears down on Japan, Rugby World Cup organizers have again outlined the plan to assess whether Sunday's crucial Pool A game between the host team and Scotland can go ahead.

Organizers took the unprecedented move of declaring 0-0 ties for two games scheduled Saturday — defending champion New Zealand against Italy in Toyota and 2003 champion England against France in Yokohama. So New Zealand and England both topped their groups and Italy missed a chance to push for a spot in the knockout rounds. The only game expected to go ahead Saturday is Ireland against Samoa in Fukuoka.

There are four games scheduled for Sunday but the last of those — and the last of the group stage — is attracting the most attention.

Scotland needs to beat Japan in Yokohama to have a chance of advancing, while the Japanese need only avoid defeat to progress to the quarterfinals for the first time. A decision on that game can be delayed until six hours before kick-off.

"Our primary consideration is the safety of everyone. We will undertake detailed venue inspections as soon as practically possible after the Typhoon has passed, and an update will be published as soon as that process has been undertaken in the morning," World Rugby said in a statement Saturday. "Our message to fans continues to be stay indoors today, stay safe and monitor official Rugby World Cup social and digital channels."

Trains and flights have been canceled, and authorities are urging residents and visitors to stay indoors, out of the way of the torrential rain and destructive winds that are expected to hammer Japan's main island.

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