Typhoon Hagibis has hit the 2019 World Cup hard and caused a massive reaction from disappointed players, officials and spectators.
It has its bearing too on the course of the next World Cup, to be fought out in New Zealand in two years time.
As two greats of the Italian game, Leonardo Ghiraldini and Sergio Parisse (246 caps between them), contemplated missing out on their final game for the Azzurri, New Zealand rejected the notion of delaying their match for 24 hours as it would run the All Blacks too close to their next fixture in five days time.
We should place that statement against past and future fixture-lists in what used to be called the Women’s Rugby World Cup.
After repeated pleas from competing nations World Rugby announced revised arrangements. The size of each squad would be raised to 30, and ‘four days between pool matches, and five or six days during the knock-out rounds’.
I have not yet seen an explanation of what is meant by ‘four days between pool matches‘.
Does it mean that after a Saturday game a side may play the following Wednesday or the following Thursday? We must trust it means the latter. But either way, it sets that All Black response to the current impasse in an unfavourable light. One rule for the men, another for the women
For the record, the pool stages in 2017 were held on the 9th, 13th and 17th August. That meant a gap of three days between fixtures.
One central problem the Women’s World Cup has is that a huge majority of players are amateur, so are taking time off work to compete. The extension of the next competition to 35 days is welcome, but poses the question: how are players expected to take that length of time off work?