Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 15 October 2019

Coach Eddie Jones believes 'typhoon gods' have helped England's World Cup hopes

Cancelled match means unbeaten former champions top their group and can make the most of a week of rest

England coach Eddie Jones said Super Typhoon Hagibis had given his team a "great opportunity" after their final group game was cancelled.

Tournament organisers took the unprecedented step of calling off Saturday's matches between England and France and New Zealand and Italy as the typhoon bears down on Japan.

It means England will finish on top of Pool C thanks to the two points both they and France will receive for a cancelled game.

England, unbeaten at this tournament and winners in 2003, can now look forward to a quarter-final in Oita on October 19, with their likely opponents set to be Jones's native Australia.

But far from being downcast at a week without a match, Jones said: "We are not concerned at all, we are excited, absolutely excited, a great opportunity.

"Who would have thought we would have two relatively easy games (against Tonga and the United States), one tough game (against Argentina) and then two weeks to prepare for a quarter-final?

"So someone is smiling on us - the typhoon gods maybe?"

Jones added that he expected the injured Billy Vunipola, Joe Marler and Jack Nowell all to be available next weekend.

England now plan to head to Miyazaki, where they had a pre-tournament camp, for three days' training.

Jones, Australia's coach when they lost the 2003 World Cup final to England in Sydney, said the squad had only been officially informed the game was off on Thursday.

"We were preparing for the game in game mode and now the game is off, we're in preparation mode. We can't control it."

Jones, however, did have sympathy for England fans who had made the long journey to Tokyo for the France game.

"It is difficult for them because it was going to be a special occasion and we feel for them and we are lucky to have such great supporters."

Jones, asked if England now had a better chance of reaching the semi-final with a week's break, replied: "It's the only chance we've got mate because that's the only preparation we've got. So why worry about whether if it's a better chance or a not so good chance?

"That's the only chance we've got, so we're prepared to take it.

"You can't help typhoons, we would all like to think we've got the power above and beyond what's on the world at the moment, but we don't and these things happen and you just ride with it."

'Ridiculous there was no Plan B'

However, Italy captain Sergio Parisse has taken a different view. Italy had a slim chance to reach the quarter-finals if they pulled off a massive upset against the All Blacks for the first time as well as securing a bonus point.

With the match officially declared a 0-0 draw because of the cancellation, both teams get two points. That leaves Italy third in Pool B on 12 points behind South Africa on 15, while the All Blacks top the group on 16.

"It is difficult to know that we won't have the chance to play a match against one of the great teams," Parisse told reporters in Toyota City on Thursday.

"If New Zealand needed four or five points against us it would not have been cancelled."

Steve Hansen's side will now face the runner-up of the hotly contested Pool A in the quarter-finals.

Parisse, however, was still disappointed that his team did not get to end their tournament on the field at the City of Toyota Stadium.

"We had the chance to play in a big stadium, against a great team," Parisse said. "It is ridiculous that a decision of this nature has been made, because it isn't like the fans arrived yesterday.

"It is ridiculous that there was no Plan B, because it isn't news that typhoons hit Japan. The alternative is Plan B. When you organise a World Cup you should have one in place."

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said he sympathised with Italy and Parisse, but insisted the decision to cancel the game was a "no-brainer".

The reality is we can't control the weather," Hansen said. "Do we charge on and put people's lives at risk, or do we lead and make a decision that's around making sure people are safe? It's a no-brainer.

"There's a lot of sympathy for them. But the right decisions are being made, because it's all about safety."

Updated: October 10, 2019 03:08 PM

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