England Rugby have known for quite some time that they will need to conquer New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland, Wales and the like to win the Rugby World Cup, but no one expected them to be taking on Faxai.
The typhoon will hit Tokyo at some point on Sunday ahead of England’s arrival in Japan the following day with wind gusts of more than 80mph expected and a “genuine threat to life” issued due to the 150mm of rain expected – making it the equivalent of a category one hurricane.
It was confirmed in the week that any pool games disrupted by severe weather will be scored a 0-0 draw, which could have large ramifications on who emerges to the knockout stage and who doesn’t.
“It will affect the World Cup, there is no doubt about it,” said Eddie Jones. “You just have to be able to ride with it, be adaptable and work out how you can escape with the situations that avail.”
The England head coach has travelled many times to Japan over the last two years, partly with a view to putting together contingency plans to deal with such situations as tropical storms and typhoons. The weather predicted this week would be enough to stop England from training, although the forecast in Miyazaki – where a 10-day training camp is planned from Tuesday – looks much better to the point that it could prove too hot for the players as temperatures in excess of 31 degrees Celsius will feel much hotter due to the lack of wind.
“We have done a fair bit [of contingency planning],” added Jones, who confirmed that they have provisions to train indoors on artificial turf if severe weather returns at some point during the tournament. “We would have an idea of what we would do if there was a typhoon that stopped us training outside.”
That said, it is not something that the players and staff are overly looking forward to, and they will not know if they can even land in Tokyo on Monday morning until the later stages of their flight to the Far East.
“I’m not looking forward to that!” a nervous Ben Youngs laughed after he starred in the 37-0 victory over Italy. “Just let me land, I don’t mind being in it once we’ve landed but just let me land! It’s a scary thought. Gengey [Ellis Genge] was telling me he’d been watching videos of planes landing in typhoons and I’m thinking ‘oh please no’. But Eddie’s told us to download plenty of films on the iPad because we could travel the world a few times before we land!”
As much as the weather could have an impact on plans off the field, so too could it have a say on what happens on it. The Australian believes the hot conditions seen in Friday’s Test between Japan and South Africa in Kumagaya which are expected to feature again during the tournament will change how sides are able to attack, given the difficulty it causes in keeping possession of the ball.
“South Africa played Japan and it was very hot, very humid, a lot of dropped balls. The ball was very greasy. That could increase the amount of kicking,” explained Jones.
“We’re going to have a night in Tokyo. Then we will fly out to Miyazaki and have three or four days or reconditioning and then start training next Saturday. We just want them to get them out and about.”
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