Jones: I have been in a ty­phoon – it was right to call the match off

Eng­land coach tells of near-miss in Japan storm Scots can blame no one but them­selves, he in­sists

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Rugby World Cup -

RUGBY NEWS COR­RE­SPON­DENT

Ed­die Jones has re­vealed he was al­most se­ri­ously in­jured by a ty­phoon in Japan and praised the or­gan­is­ers’ de­ci­sion to can­cel Eng­land’s game against France.

The head coach said the “ty­phoon gods” had been smil­ing on his squad as can­celling the match handed his play­ers a two-week prepa­ra­tion for their quar­ter-fi­nal in Oita. He also in­sisted that Scot­land would have only them­selves to blame if they were knocked out by their match against Japan be­ing can­celled, given there was al­ways a risk of such an even­tu­al­ity.

Jones, who was Japan head coach for four years and also coached club rugby here for many years, knows first hand about the po­ten­tial dangers of typhoons to life. “I’ve prob­a­bly been here for about 30 typhoons and some of them are just like a big thun­der­storm,” Jones added. “I can re­mem­ber driv­ing once in one of the first typhoons, and a store sign flew off and landed just in front of the car, so there’s a rea­son why when typhoons come ev­ery­thing shuts down be­cause it can be par­tic­u­larly dan­ger­ous.

“At one stage, I was look­ing pretty dodgy if the sign had kept com­ing [at me].

“This one’s sup­posed to be a big ty­phoon, so I don’t see any other op­tion that the or­gan­is­ers had. That’s why we’re not con­cerned at all about the com­ings and go­ings of it, we think it’s the right de­ci­sion.”

The can­cel­la­tion of the match to­mor­row, when the ty­phoon is ex­pected to make land­fall in the Tokyo area, was con­firmed to Eng­land team man­ager Char­lotte Gib­bons by World Rugby yes­ter­day morn­ing. Jones, who had been due to an­nounce his team to face France yes­ter­day, im­me­di­ately put in place plans to re­lo­cate the squad to the coastal re­sort of Miyazaki, on Kyushu is­land – which should be un­af­fected by the ty­phoon – where Eng­land staged their pre-tour­na­ment train­ing camp in September.

It is un­der­stood that Owen Far­rell would have been named in the start­ing XV as cap­tain, de­spite suf­fer­ing a sec­ond suc­ces­sive head in­jury and show­ing in­dif­fer­ent form against Ar­gentina. Henry Slade was due to start at out­side cen­tre and Mark Wil­son pro­moted to cover for the in­jured Billy Vu­nipola at No8 in a side fea­tur­ing six changes.

The Eng­land squad flew to Miyazaki from Tokyo last night and will make a three-hour coach jour­ney on Mon­day to Oita, where they will play their quar­ter-fi­nal – ex­pected to be against Aus­tralia – the fol­low­ing Satur­day. Bar­ring a freak re­sult for Ire­land against Samoa to­mor­row, Scot­land will fail to make the knock­out stages if their match against Japan on Sun­day is can­celled.

Jones said all teams had been aware that ex­treme weather events could dis­rupt the pool stages. “We’ve been talk­ing about it all the time,” said Jones, whose side, along with France, had al­ready qual­i­fied af­ter three rounds. “It’s ty­phoon sea­son, so you go some­where else and it’s ter­ror­ist sea­son. You know what’s go­ing to hap­pen, you’ve got to be pre­pared for it. You have to ac­cu­mu­late points in your games to put your­self in the right po­si­tion in case that hap­pened.”

Tens of thou­sands of Eng­land sup­port­ers have ar­rived in the Ja­pa­nese cap­i­tal this week for what was sup­posed to be the defin­ing fix­ture of the side’s qual­i­fy­ing cam­paign, and are now in­stead fac­ing the prospect of the city go­ing into lock­down as it braces it­self for what is ex­pected to be one of the worst typhoons to hit Japan.

“I have just been walk­ing around the streets and there are a lot of peo­ple with dis­ap­pointed faces,” Jones added. “It is dif­fi­cult for them be­cause it was go­ing to be a spe­cial oc­ca­sion and we feel for them.”

Eng­land will now use their mini­camp in Miyazaki to repli­cate a Test-match in­ten­sity train­ing ses­sion to­mor­row. “It’s the only chance we’ve got be­cause that’s the only prepa­ra­tion we’ve got,” Jones said. “So, why worry whether it’s a bet­ter chance or a not-so chance. That’s the only chance we’ve got.”

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