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
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.”