A Super Typhoon on its way to becoming the strongest storm in the world this year could force the organizers of the Rugby World Cup to move Saturday night's vital Pool A clash between Ireland and Samoa in Fukuoka.
World Rugby released a statement on Monday confirming they were monitoring Typhoon Hagibis, "which is currently developing off the south coast of Japan".
According to theweathernetwork.com, the typhoon is "the strongest storm on the planet" with winds reaching 260km / h and gusts in excess of 300km / h – and it could be the strongest of the year after reaching super typhoon status in just 18 hours.
The times report that World Cup organizers are considering moving Ireland and Samoa's game on the southern island of Kyushu because the typhoon is forecast to hit there this weekend.
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The island also hosts Wales and Uruguay's Pool D match in Kumamoto on Sunday but that game is likely to be of far less significance. Providing Wales beat Fiji as expected on Wednesday, their place in the quarter finals would already be safe by then.
But Ireland needs a bonus point win over Samoa to guarantee a quarter-final berth and The times report that World Rugby has made playing all pool-deciding fixtures "a priority".
World Rugby's Monday statement said they had "a robust contingency program in place in the event adverse weather looks likely to impact fixtures".
Despite the logistical nightmare for touring fans, it appears the governing body is willing to forgo the regulation where World Cup pool games canceled because of weather are declared a scoreless draw.
Assistant coach Andy Farrell said Ireland were a keen World Rugby for the game to be played. A potential cancellation could knock Ireland out if Scotland were to beat Japan in a possible Pool A decider in the last pool game of the tournament.
"The weather forecast changes all the time anyway, so we probably won't know until 48 hours out of the game," Farrell said.
"The boys haven't even spoken about it – we just go from day to day, get on with our preparations."
Japan's Meteorological Agency (JMA) fear the typhoon could be the strongest to hit Japan this year and it could impact other pool games this weekend.
The All Blacks play their final pool game against Italy in Toyota on Saturday (5:45 pm, NZ time) in the first of seven World Cup matches held across Japan on Saturday and Sunday.
According to accuweather.com, the long-range weather forecast for Saturday in Toyota is for high winds and heavy rain because of the typhoon.
World Rugby said it was too soon to predict the typhoon's exact trajectory but the early forecast shows it is heading in a "north-west direction and could bring high winds and heavy rain to southern Japan on 12 and 13 October".
Of the seven pool games scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, the only venue host well clear of the typhoon's predicted path is Namibia and Canada's clash in the northern town of Kamaishi.
JMA said the typhoon is expected to reach the highest level of "violent".
Toyota, a city near the center of Japan's main island, could be in the firing line when the All Blacks look to seal top spot in Pool B against Italy.
With the All Blacks likely to top Pool B, the reigning world champions would face whichever teams finishes second in Pool A in the quarter-finals but it's unlikely to be decided until the end of Japan and Scotland's clash in Yokohama.
Scotland prop Gordon Reid said the weather "does not matter" for their game against Japan, a match the Scots need to win to have a chance of reaching the last eight.
"We're from Scotland. Rain. Hail. It doesn't matter. We've copied with a lot more," Reid said.
"We're from Ayrshire and Glasgow and Edinburgh, well a bit posh in Edinburgh but rain, shine, snow, whatever, it doesn't matter."
Earlier in the pool stage, there were fears Typhoon Mitag would threaten the Pool C match between France and the United States in Fukuoka, but it stayed away from Japan's coastline and had no impact as France won 33-9.
AT A GLANCE
Rugby World Cup games on Saturday and Sunday
– Sat Oct 12, 17:45: New Zealand v Italy, City of Toyota Stadium (pool B)
– Sat Oct 12, 21:15: England v France, International Stadium Yokohama (pool C)
– Sat Oct 12, 23:45: Ireland v Samoa, Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium (pool A)
– Sun Oct 13, 16:15: Namibia v Canada, Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium (pool B)
– Sun Oct 13, 18:45: USA v Tonga, Hanazono Rugby Stadium (pool C)
– Sun Oct 13, 21:15: Wales v Uruguay, Kumamoto Stadium (pool D)
– Sun Oct 13, 23:45: Japan v Scotland, International Stadium Yokohama (pool A)