Jones thanks ‘gods’ after game axed

England head coach Eddie Jones
England head coach Eddie Jones
Image: David Rogers - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images

England coach Eddie Jones said Super Typhoon Hagibis had given his team a great opportunity on Thursday after their final group game was cancelled for safety reasons.

Tournament organisers took the unprecedented step of scrapping Saturday’s matches between England and France, and New Zealand and Italy as the typhoon nears Japan.

It means England finish top of Pool C thanks to the two points both they and France receive for a cancelled game.

England, unbeaten at this tournament, can now look forward to a quarterfinal in Oita on October 19, with likely opponents to be Jones’s native Australia.

But far from being downcast at a week without a match, Jones said on Thursday: “We are not concerned at all, we are excited, absolutely excited, a great opportunity.

“Who would have thought we would have two relatively easy games [against Tonga and the US], one tough game [against Argentina] and then two weeks to prepare for a quarterfinal?

“So someone is smiling on us – the typhoon gods maybe?”

Jones said he expected the injured Billy Vunipola, Joe Marler and Jack Nowell all to be available next weekend.

England now go to Miyazaki for three days’ training.

Jones, Australia’s coach when they lost the 2003 World Cup final to England in Sydney, sympathised with fans who had made the long journey to Tokyo for the France game.

“We are lucky to have such great supporters.”

Meanwhile, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said the cancellation of the world champions’ final group game against Italy in Toyota was a “no-brainer”.

“Everyone knew this was a possibility and we all knew what the process would be if it did occur,” he said.

“When you get a typhoon to the level we’re getting, then safety is the paramount thing, so it’s a no-brainer.

“I just hope people don’t remember the World Cup for this. It’s been a marvellous tournament so far.”

It will be 28 days between the All Blacks’ opening pool win over SA and their quarterfinal, with only matches against minnows Canada and Namibia in between.

“The most important thing that happens now is how we adapt and adjust to it.”

Hansen confirmed the cancellation affected lock Brodie Retallick and centre Jack Goodhue, who only recently returned from injury and were in need of more game time.

The two points New Zealand have received for a match deemed a draw mean they will advance as Pool B winners ahead of SA.