059. Matches 34, 35 and 37

RWC2019 Match 34: New Zealand 0 Italy 0 

Match cancelled (Typhoon Hagibis)


So the first match to ever be cancelled involves the All Blacks: I suggest you mark this down as a future pub quiz question.

Under the tournament rules a cancelled match is deemed a nil-all draw, with both teams getting two match points.

But in other real world places (All Blacks caps and statistics), this match is deemed to never have occurred. Because it didn’t.

Despite some of the breathless reporting out of the northern hemisphere, the All Blacks wanted to play this match:

  • give Brodie Retallick some extra game time in his return from injury
  • give a shadow first team more time working on their connections
  • keep the nerves under control.

Italy also wanted to play, partly because they still had a mathematical chance of making the quarters, but also because statistically it was going to be their final hurrah at this tournament, and who doesn’t want to put ‘played against the All Blacks’ on their resume?

A shame all round, but cancellation was the correct decision.


RWC2019 Match 35: England 0 France 0 

Match cancelled (Typhoon Hagibis)

Another correct decision to cancel.  Both teams had already qualified for the quarters, but this match would have been an opportunity for France to leapfrog England in the table order.

In theory that matters if you would prefer to play Australia rather than Wales in the quarter.  But frankly, if you’re here to win, the correct attitude is “I don’t care who I have to play, I just know I have to win three in a row. Bring it on.”

But the French being French, if they go on to lose to Wales in the quarter, there will be a fair bit of cabbage throwing.


RWC2019 Match 37: Namibia 0 Canada 0 

Match cancelled (Typhoon Hagibis)

Yet another correct decision, but the most regrettable by my reckon.

First and most important, it was to be played at Kamaishi.  This was a place devastated by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, and a stadium had been built here as part of the recovery efforts.

Secondly, it was to be between Namibia and Canada, the two minnowiest minnows of Pool B.  At stake was the opportunity to play your best rugby, get a win at a Rugby World Cup (which Namibia have never achieved, and Canada not since 2011), and not be the wooden-spooners in your Pool.

Thirdly, and least important by far, is that Ned had a ticket to this game.  Of all the tickets Ned has, this was the one I was really most excited about.  A small stadium in an off the beaten track part of Japan, and Namibia to cheer for.

Alas, not to be, and very interesting in the official statement the deference given to local authorities in the decision to cancel: “Following strong direction from the Prefecture of Iwate and the City of Kamaishi, we were left with no option but to cancel the match on safety grounds.”

This is local government that knows what a disaster looks like, and how bad decisions cost lives, and they were having none of it. Fair enough.

But sad too.  Would’ve been a great day all round.


A final thought: we are going to have to devise new language and categories for these cancelled matches.

While the tournament rules need to deem the results nil-all draws, that is not in fact what happened. New Zealand did not draw a Rugby World Cup pool match; we did not draw with Italy.


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