Photo/IllutrationWorld Rugby COO and Tournament Director Alan Gilpin, left, and Akira Shimazu, CEO of the Rugby World Cup 2019 Organizing Committee, during a news conference on Oct. 10 in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward (Yosuke Fukudome)

For the first time ever, Rugby World Cup matches will be canceled due to massive approaching Typhoon No. 19, which officials cited could create dangerous conditions for both players and spectators.

At a news conference in Tokyo on Oct. 10, organizers of the 9th Rugby World Cup (RWC) announced the cancellation of two key matches on Oct. 12.

The affected are a Pool B match between New Zealand and Italy scheduled in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture, and a Pool C match between England and France scheduled in Yokohama on Oct. 12.

It will mark the first time in the history of the Rugby World Cup since the quadrennial competition started in 1987 that a match has had to be canceled.

“While making every possible effort to put in place a contingency plan that would enable all of Saturday’s matches to be played, it would be grossly irresponsible to leave teams, fans, volunteers and other tournament personnel exposed during what is predicted to be a severe typhoon,” said World Rugby COO and Tournament Director Alan Gilpin.

The Pool A match between Ireland and Samoa, one of the three games scheduled for Oct. 12, will go on as scheduled in Fukuoka.

Fans with tickets for a canceled match will receive a full refund for the face value of their tickets, organizers said.

A canceled match is counted as a draw, with each team receiving two points.

As a result, New Zealand will advance to the knockout round of eight teams. Italy, on the other hand, will be eliminated from the tournament.

England and France have already advanced to the knockout round.

The fate of the four matches scheduled on Oct. 13, including the most anticipated game between host nation Japan and Scotland in Yokohama, will be determined on the morning of the game day.

Organizers said the final decision will be made after making a thorough assessment of the venues after the typhoon has passed through.

If the match between Japan and Scotland is canceled, undefeated Japan, with the additional two points added to its total, will advance to the knockout stage for the first time.

Regarding the two canceled matches, organizers had considered holding the contests at a different venue without spectators.

However, it was too late to make such arrangements, after weighing all the factors including transportation and accommodations for the teams and security measures.

Organizers had also been aware that guidelines were in place in the event of a canceled match in the pool phase of the tournament.

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