herald

Wednesday 16 October 2019

Schmidt plans under storm threat

Ireland Head coach Joe Schmidt
Ireland Head coach Joe Schmidt

Ireland insist they won't get sidetracked by fears that their crucial Pool A finale against Samoa in Fukuoka on Saturday could come under threat from Typhoon Hagibis, which is emerging as the biggest imminent danger to Joe Schmidt's World Cup plans.

World Rugby have been keeping abreast of the situation for the last 24 hours.

And while the typhoon's path appears to be constantly changing, the latest forecast last night suggested the storm is veering away towards Tokyo.

If the game in Fukuoka had to be called off, it would have disastrous consequences for Ireland.

Tournament rules state that if a game is cancelled and cannot be played on the same day, the result will go down as a 0-0 draw with the teams awarded two points each.

With Scotland and Japan set to meet in Yokohama on Sunday, if Ireland were to only get two points against Samoa, it would open the door for the hosts and the Scots to advance to the quarter-final.

However, Ireland defence coach Andy Farrell insisted yesterday their focus is on the match and not the weather forecast.

"The boys haven't even spoken about it really," Farrell said. "We just go from day-to-day and get on with our preparations. World Rugby has been in touch with us and they're as keen as we are, as you are, to get this game played."

Although the tournament rules also state that cancelled games "shall not be postponed to the following day," the Herald understands that World Rugby may be prepared to make special allowances if such a situation arises this weekend.

This could also include a change of venue.

Winds of up to 180km/h are forecasted to batter Japan, amid concerns that the storm could be upgraded to a 'super typhoon' by the time it hits the mainland.

Farrell said: "I believe there is a contingency plan in place but I think there's updates every 24 hours. We just get on with our day job and try to best prepare every single day. We'll see what comes of that.

"If you look at the weather forecast, it changes the whole time so I think we probably won't know until 48 hours or so before."

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