England are warming up to meet with France to be moved or cancelled as Typhoon Hagibis continues its destruction process on Japan. The category five super typhoon, which is the most powerful in the region this year, is on course to hit the main island of Honshu on Saturday.
England meet France in Yokohama at 09:15 BST before Scotland’s critical group decider against hosts Japan in the same stadium at 11:45 on Sunday. Torrential rain and violent winds are forecast in Tokyo and Yokohama, with tournament regulations stating that games can be moved or cancelled if weather conditions deteriorate.
England defence coach John Mitchell said: “Whatever happens, we will make the best of the situation.
“We’re looking forward to playing France. Clearly if there is any change in those final preparations, we’ve got to be smart, so we’ll definitely pre-plan.
“At the end of the day you just control what you can control, so, should something happen in terms of where we play, that’s not a problem because all along we’ve focused on adapting and being flexible, being ready for any particular situation that’s thrown at us.”
Moving both games would be a huge logistical challenge for World Cup organisers, with tens of thousands of travelling fans expected in Tokyo and the 70,000 capacity of the Yokohama stadium not matched by any other ground in the tournament.
England have qualified for the quarter-finals but Scotland’s progression may depend on getting their game played and winning in style.
Games that are cancelled are registered as scoreless draws, which means that if Ireland beat Samoa in Fukuoka on Saturday then a weather-enforced two-point haul would put Gregor Townsend’s team out.
England’s arrival in Japan at the start of last month coincided with the end of Typhoon Faxai, which was then the strongest storm to hit the country in more than half a century. That typhoon left Eddie Jones’s squad stranded at Narita international airport for five hours, an experience that Mitchell believes could serve them well this weekend.
He said: “It goes back to the typhoon that was here when we arrived – we found a number of hours to create good humour and fun and enjoyment waiting for a bus then.
“If that’s an example of what we’ve experienced before, making adjustments to travel to play the game somewhere else certainly won’t affect us.
“We expect to play, and World Rugby I’m sure would like the game to be played.
“But if that should be taken out of our hands, we will then back our very strong training methodology to prepare us in another way.”