Tokyo: Japan and Scotland were set to meet in a crunch Rugby World Cup clash on Sunday after getting the late go-ahead despite chaos caused by Typhoon Hagibis, which claimed at least 20 lives.
Organisers gave the green light for the Pool A showdown and two other games, but they pulled the plug on Namibia's meeting with Canada in Kamaishi, which was badly affected by the storm.
Wales beat Uruguay 35-13 to confirm a quarter-final with France, and Tonga overcame USA 31-19 in the two other games given the all-clear after Saturday's storm, one of the worst to hit Japan in recent years.
A poignant moment's silence was held before both games to remember the victims of Hagibis, whose "unprecedented" heavy rain triggered deadly landslides and caused rivers to burst their banks.
But tournament director Alan Gilpin said flooding and landslides had given him "no option" but to scrap the Namibia-Canada match in Kamaishi — a town devastated by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Namibia coach Phil Davies, a former Welsh international, backed the "logical" cancellation given "safety is paramount".
"I've never seen so much rain and being from Wales we see a lot of rain, but it's been phenomenal and it was the right decision," said Davies.
Images posted on social media showed the Canadian players helping out with the clean-up operation, as captain Tyler Ardron admitted it was "disappointing" not to play.
'Not too happy'
Wales coach Warren Gatland admitted he was not happy with the sloppy win over Uruguay, which needed two late tries to Tomos Williams and Gareth Davies to give the scoreline some gloss.
"Not too happy with some of tonight. We were poor at times, not clinical. Too many turnovers in that first half," said the New Zealander.
"Probably blew four or five chances. But the boys showed a little bit of character."
Attention now focuses squarely on the highly anticipated Japan-Scotland match in Yokohama, a straight shoot-out to see who will join Ireland in the quarter-finals from Pool A.
Japan are four points ahead of the Scots in the table, putting them in the box seat to reach their first quarter-final. For Scotland, even a win might not be enough with a maximum two bonus points on offer for the losing side.
Officials gave the go-ahead for the game after "a comprehensive assessment of the venue and associated infrastructure" but warned fans to arrive early with transport still recovering and to expect reduced catering services.
The crucial fixture had been the source of an ugly war of words between organisers and Scotland who threatened to sue if it were cancelled.
Japan has been left reeling from the unusually large storm, with many people trapped by floodwaters and tens of thousands evacuating overnight.
At least 20 people lost their lives in the devastation with the military deployed in a huge rescue effort to save others.
"Such devastation and threat to human life places everything into stark perspective," said World Rugby chief Bill Beaumont.
"While we have been doing everything we can to ensure Rugby World Cup 2019 matches take place as scheduled, the bigger picture of wellbeing and safety is far more important," he added.
A dignified Uruguay captain Juan Gaminara said the thoughts of all his team were with those suffering from Hagibis.
"Keep on fighting and good luck."
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Updated Date: Oct 13, 2019 16:44:45 IST