Two Rugby World Cup matches scheduled for Saturday have been cancelled as Super Typhoon Hagibis approaches Japan.

Of the three matches scheduled to take place on Saturday, only one — Ireland vs Samoa — will go on as planned while England’s match against France and the clash between New Zealand and Italy have been cancelled.

“The decision to cancel matches has not been taken lightly and has been made in the best interests of public, team, tournament personnel and volunteer safety, based on expert advice and detailed weather information,” the tournament’s organisers said in a statement.

“We fully appreciate that England, France, New Zealand and Italy fans will be disappointed, but we trust they will appreciate that their safety must come first. They will be entitled to a full refund on their match tickets,” World Rugby Chief Operating Officer Alan Gilpin added.

No detail yet as to when the matches will be played with organisers hopeful Sunday’s games can go on as scheduled although a final decision to be made on the morning.

Hagibis is predicted to become the strongest storm of the year and the Japan Meteorological Agency forecasts that large swathes of eastern and northern Japan are at “risk of severe damage” over the weekend.

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