The All Blacks will enter sudden death rugby having not played a game in two weeks.

Nor will they have played a competitive game in a month.

Sound like a familiar story? That's because it is. However, the original narrative didn't end so well for the men in black.

World Rugby yesterday announced that the fixtures between New Zealand and Italy in Toyota, and England and France in Yokohama were to be designated nil-all draws due to the impending arrival of Typhoon Hagibis.


The All Blacks will now come up against either Ireland, Japan or Scotland in their Rugby World Cup quarterfinal clash next Saturday, two weeks after a relatively underwhelming win over Nambia.

The last time New Zealand had such an easy pool was at the 2007 World Cup, where they were knocked out in the quarterfinals.

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It's a similar scenario for England, who were counting on getting their first proper challenge of the tournament from the feisty French.

England's biggest game to date was against Argentina, who played with 14 men for the majority of the match. They've conceded just 20 points in the tournament and notched up 35 or more in all their matches.

Eddie Jones was happy with the extra time for preparation for his side. Photo / Getty
Eddie Jones was happy with the extra time for preparation for his side. Photo / Getty

That's hardly what you'd call ideal preparation for going up against the Wallabies, who had two tough pool games against Fiji and Wales.

The other side of the coin, of course, is that some teams will enter the quarterfinals with two week rests for the first time in the competition's history.

"We're excited at the prospect of having a great preparation for the final now," said England coach Eddie Jones after learning that his side's game against France was to be called off.


Wales, who France will face in their quarterfinal, will enter sudden death a week and a half after being battered, bruised and almost bested by Fiji – they've also got one more fixture to play, against Uruguay. Flyhalf Dan Biggar may not be available for the quarterfinal after copping a heavy blow from his own teammate in the game with Fiji – what would Warren Gatland have given to be able to skip that fixture?

It'll be a similar story for Ireland, who will face either South Africa or New Zealand barely a week after having to deal to the sizeable Samoan team.

England, France and New Zealand will have an exceptional amount of time to rest up and prepare for the impending sudden death games – but will the gross amount of time off be a help or a hinderance?

Scotland on path to redemption or ejection?

A decision is yet to be made on Sunday's crucial fixture between Scotland and Japan.
The final scheduled match of the group stages of the World Cup would decide who of the two competing teams will progress through to the quarterfinals.

Two competition points for Japan would lock up top spot in the pool, even if Ireland get a bonus point win over Samoa on Friday. Scotland, on the other hand, would need to earn at least four more competition points from the game than Scotland. That effectively means they need either a bonus point win, or a regular win but by more than 7 points.

George Turner Scotland hooker crashes over the line. Photo / Photosport
George Turner Scotland hooker crashes over the line. Photo / Photosport

If the match is cancelled, then Japan will progress from Pool A as the top-seeded team, booking them a game against South Africa.

Scotland, have come out of the gates slowly at this World Cup but have found some form in recent weeks, would be favourites to win Sunday's match, despite Japan's rich run of form, and will be profoundly frustrated if their match is called off.

Already pundits are frustrated at the fact that matches have been cancelled for the first time in World Cup history, but the greatest victims of the cancellations are still yet to be decided.

Will it be the teams that will miss out on significant challenges before entering sudden death, the sides that have to go up against well-rested opposition come the quarterfinals, or the nation that started slowly but was looking to finish the group stages with a flourish?

This story was originally published on RugbyPass and has been used with permission