By Khalia Strong

All Black fans recoiled in horror and frustration after learning just moments after landing in Japan that Saturday's clash with Italy had been cancelled.

World Rugby took the unprecedented step on Thursday to cancel both the All Black/Italy and France/England pool-play matches as Typhoon Hagibis heads towards Japan.

The weather system – which has been described as a "Super Typhoon" – is expected to unleash its full might on Saturday night, bringing with it dangerous winds and rain.


Among fans who found out the bad news shortly after arrival in Tokyo on Thursday were Simon Hepple; the winner of a competition offering Herald Premium subscribers two return flights to Japan, five nights' accommodation in Tokyo and $3000 in spending money.

Brothers and All Black fans Andy, left, and Simon Hepple en route to Japan on Thursday prior to the Italy match cancellation. Photo / Supplied
Brothers and All Black fans Andy, left, and Simon Hepple en route to Japan on Thursday prior to the Italy match cancellation. Photo / Supplied

"When we landed in Japan, we could hear the groans from people around the plane as they were turning their phones on," he said.

"People were swearing and we kind of knew the game was gonna be cancelled as they got on the internet."

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Hepple and his brother Andy travelled to Japan together.

Hepple estimated a third of passengers on the flight had travelled specifically for the rugby.

World Rugby had made the public announcement that the games were off while the plane was still Japan-bound.

"Everyone we spoke to was talking about going to the game, there were a lot of disappointed people.


"By the time we got to customs, people were laughing about it. I mean, what can you do?"

Hepple said he was quite "fatalistic" about the game being cancelled.

"It is what it is, I'm just excited to be in Japan and have a look around. I've never been to Japan before," he said.

"There's still a buzz of excitement in the place. The Japanese have been really nice to us ... everyone's at pains to apologise for a typhoon coming ... as if they can help it."

Hepple said although there were clear skies at the moment, they plan to stay close to their hotel.

"You'd never believe in a million years that there was a typhoon about to come. It's as still as anything.


"The roads are pretty quiet, there's not even a whisper of wind. I thought Tokyo would be heaving at this time but there's very few cars on the road."

Typhoon Hagibis is the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane.

More disruption could impact Sunday's scheduled Rugby World Cup matches.