Rugby World Cup 2019: Super Typhoon Hagibis threatens to disrupt England's game with France

England continue their preparations ahead of Saturday's game with France
England continue their preparations ahead of Saturday's game with France

England's climax to the World Cup group stage against France is facing the triple threat of illness, injury and the approach of Super Typhoon Hagibis.

Captain Owen Farrell and hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie have been struck down by a stomach bug, while Billy Vunipola, Jack Nowell and Joe Marler are being treated for knocks sustained in Saturday's victory over Argentina.

But the gravest danger posed to the Pool C decider could be from one of the most aggressive typhoons ever recorded, on course to wipe out both weekend matches being played at Yokohama.

The 170mph storm seems set to make landfall in southern Japan by Saturday and England's Pool C fixture in Yokohama could be hit.

Scotland's Pool A clash with hosts Japan at the International Stadium, Yokohama on Sunday could also be affected by the storm.

Follow the latest news, team news and injury updates from the Rugby World Cup
Follow the latest news, team news and injury updates from the Rugby World Cup

Ireland's match against Samoa in Fukuoaka on Saturday and Wales' Pool D fixture against Uruguay in Kumamoto on Sunday currently looks less likely to face disruption.

World Rugby said in a statement it had "robust contingency plans" in place should the typhoon hit the weekend pool matches.

Hagibis is currently over the Pacific Ocean and the Met Office's latest estimation is that it will reach southern Japan on Saturday. That could also have an impact on the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.

A Met Office spokesperson said: "There's still a lot of discrepancy about where it will track, and where we'll see the worst impacts.

"It currently is about 200 miles west of the Northern Mariana Islands. It has an estimated wind speed of 120mph and gusts of around 170mph. It's continuing to head northwards towards mainland Japan.

"It is expected to weaken before it reaches landfall and at the moment there is still some discussion about where it might reach landfall. It looks like being towards the weekend, Saturday potentially.

"It looks like there will still be sustained wind speeds of 100mph when it reaches landfall but it's exact path is uncertain.

"We are expecting very heavy rain as well. We are certainly looking, depending on where it hits, at the potential for flash flooding and wind damage."

A statement from World Rugby read: "World Rugby, Japan Rugby 2019 and our weather information experts continue to closely monitor the direction and strength of Typhoon Hagibis (Typhoon 19).

"It remains too early to fully predict the movement and impact of the storm, however the latest modelling by our weather information experts indicates that it is now tracking north and east and will bring strong winds and heavy rain to Tokyo and surrounding areas on 12 October.

"Public and team safety is our number one priority. While we have robust contingency plans in place for pool matches, such plans, if required, will only be actioned if the safety of teams, fans, and workforce can be guaranteed. It would be inappropriate to comment on any contingency plans at this stage.

"We will continue to closely monitor this developing situation in partnership with our weather information experts, local authorities, transport providers and the teams, and will provide a further update tomorrow. Fans are advised to monitor official Rugby World Cup channels for any updates."

England struck down by sickness bug

If Super Typhoon Hagibis fails to strike, then England's plans still face the disruption of ranks thinned by injury and sickness.

Vunipola is the biggest concern as he continues his recovery from the twisted ankle sustained in Saturday's bonus-point victory over Argentina, with Eddie Jones refusing to give a definitive update on his fitness.

Wisemantel confirmed that Vunipola is expected to be available for the knockout phase but insists no risks will be taken over his fitness against France.

Mark Wilson or Tom Curry will deputise for in a team that is likely to show several changes to the XV that defeated 14-man Argentina.

Jack Nowell made his comeback after four months out with an ankle problem against the Pumas but is suffering from stiffness in his left leg, while prop Joe Marler is struggling with a back problem and has also become a doubt.

The health and fitness of Farrell is worrying after he was the victim of a dangerous tackle against Argentina and what followed was a disappointing performance from the Saracens fly-half.

Wisemantel said: "The bump didn't have any effect on him. I asked after the game and he said he felt pretty good, just a bit clunky with a few of the plays, but I thought he did outstandingly well.

"He's a tough, competitive player who, if anything because he competes so hard, probably tries to over-rectify the situation.

"We haven't had our final selection and we will do that tomorrow (Wednesday) evening.

"We need to look at whether it is worthwhile resting him, whether it isn't, whether we keep it going - that is one for debate."

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