Wales will have half the rest and preparation time of their opponents France for their World Cup quarter-final in Japan on Sunday week.
The imbalanced backdrop to the clash in Oita on October 20 is a result of World Rugby’s decision to cancel France’s remaining pool match against England – which was due to be played on Saturday – because of the approach of Super Typhoon Hagibis.
Each team will take two points from the abandoned Pool C showdown at International Stadium Yokohama and New Zealand’s encounter against Italy in Toyota City has shared the same fate.
It means the Italians are out of the tournament, even though they could have gone through with an unlikely win against the All Blacks.
Scotland will also be going home if their final pool game against Japan in Yokohama, on Sunday, is also scrapped. A decision on that game is expected the night before.
Wales’ final game before the knockout stages – against Uruguay on Sunday – will go ahead as Kumamoto City is not within range of the typhoon.
But it means the French, who have now finished their Pool C campaign as runner-up to England, will have had two weeks rest by the time they face Wales – double the days off Wales will enjoy.
France’s last game was their win against Tonga last Sunday and they will now avoid a bruising final game England.
Wales coach Warren Gatland has already admitted that although he will make sweeping changes for the game against Uruguay, some players will not be rested as injuries are already taking their toll.
Still under review is the critical meeting between Scotland and Japan. If that game does not go ahead, the Scots will be automatically eliminated while the tournament hosts reach the quarter-finals for the first time. The Scottish Rugby Union has released a statement demanding the match be played under contingency plans.
Hagibis has been described by the Japanese Metrological Agency as “violent” and has the capacity to cause widespread destruction around the Tokyo region.
Satellite images of the extreme weather event displayed at World Rugby’s press conference on Thursday reveal it is the size of Japan and shows no sign of deviating in its path or decreasing in magnitude.
It dwarfs Typhoon Faxai which brought Tokyo to a standstill for the day of England’s arrival in Japan, delaying their exit from Narita Airport by six hours and leaving a million homes without power, killing three people and injuring scores more.
World Cup tournament director Alan Gilpin stated that the governing body’s hand was forced by the danger posed by the Category 5 super typhoon, which is on course to hit mainland in the early hours of Saturday.
“Based on this morning’s advice, Hagibis is predicted to be the biggest of 2019 and highly likely to cause disruption in the Yokohama, Tokyo and Toyota area, including public transport shutdown,” Gilpin said.
“As a result of this independent advice, we have taken the difficult and right decision in the affected areas.
“As you can imagine the decision has not been taken lightly and is in the best interest of safety as a priority.
“All fans will receive full refunds. We are continuing to review Sunday’s matches and making sure they are played as scheduled.
“Assessment will be made after the typhoon has passed. We are advising all fans in Toyota, Yokohama and Tokyo to stay inside on Saturday.
“We looked pretty exhaustively at all the options. Important to note is that where we are is in accordance with what we said we would do before the tournament.
“Moving teams round on this scale and being able to deliver safely the exit of 12 teams….we couldn’t guarantee contingency plans consistently. If we can’t do it for all, we can’t do it for any.”