All Blacks v Italy clash off: reports

The All Blacks were to play Italy in the Pool B match. Photo: Reuters
The All Blacks were to play Italy in the Pool B match. Photo: Reuters
The All Blacks' Rugby World Cup clash against Italy is set to be called off, according to reports.

MediaWorks is reporting that the game, set to played in Toyota on Saturday night (NZ time), will be cancelled due to a looming typhoon.

Rugby World Cup organisers were expected to announce on Thursday that England's game against France on Saturday has been cancelled and that Sunday's game between Japan and Scotland is in doubt, because of the potential impact of Typhoon Hagibis.

British and local media are reporting widely that the England v France game in Yokohama will not go ahead.

Typhoon Hagibis could hit Japan on Saturday, when three matches are scheduled. Four more are set for Sunday, the final day of the preliminary round. The latest path for the typhoon is set to hit Yokohama, Tokyo and the City of Toyota over the weekend.

England's final pool match of the Rugby World Cup against France has reportedly been cancelled....
England's final pool match of the Rugby World Cup against France has reportedly been cancelled. Photo: Getty Images

World Rugby is set to make a call on the status of the weekend's games at 4pm (NZ time).

In an email to rights holding broadcasters - including NZME's Radio Sport and Newstalk ZB - World Rugby said the typhoon was due to hit Tokyo, Yokohama and City of Toyota areas.

Games in those cities over the weekend include England v France, Japan v Samoa and All Blacks v Italy.

"World Rugby has been exploring every possible contingency within a complex and rapidly-evolving environment to ensure a fair opportunity for all matches to be played," the email said.

"Team and pubic safety is the primary consideration and no decision will be made that endangers safety. By tomorrow morning, World Rugby is confident that they will have accurate information to make an informed decision regarding impact."

If games are cancelled, it would be the first time in the 32-year history of the tournament.

The 1995 semi-final between hosts South Africa and France was delayed an hour due to a waterlogged pitch, but famously went ahead after cleaning ladies took to it with brooms.

What it means for All Blacks and other teams

Cancelling the All Blacks' final pool match against Italy would not, in theory at least, have major ramifications on the state of the quarter-finals.

Tournament rules state that any pool game that cannot be played is not rescheduled and instead is recorded as a 0-0 draw, with no bonus points available.

The All Blacks and Italy would, therefore, share two points each. That would see the All Blacks finish top of Pool B, one point ahead of South Africa who they defeated in their opening match.

In this scenario, Italy would remain third in the pool and miss the knockouts.

At this stage it is unclear who the All Blacks will face in the quarter-finals.

If all remaining Pool A games (Scotland v Japan in Yokohama and Ireland v Samoa in Fukuoka) are cancelled, as has been suggested, Ireland would be New Zealand's quarter-final opponent by virtue of progressing in second place.

Japan would top their pool and play the Springboks, leaving Scotland, who sit one point behind Ireland, robbed of the opportunity to defeat the hosts in their final game to potentially progress.

England's match against France, scheduled for Saturday in Yokohama, is also expected to be cancelled. That's likely to see England take on Australia and France meet Wales in their respective quarter-finals.

- NZ Herald and Reuters