Japan and Scotland were set to meet in a crunch Rugby world Cup clash on Sunday after they got the late go-ahead despite chaos caused by Typhoon Hagibis, which claimed 14 lives as it smashed through Japan.
Organisers gave the green light for the Pool A showdown and two other games, but they pulled the plug on Namibia’s meeting with Canada in Kamaishi, which was badly affected by the storm.
Tonga beat USA 31-19 as attention returned to rugby after a difficult few days caused by the typhoon, which prompted the first cancellations in the World Cup’s 32-year history.
The two teams observed a poignant moment’s silence before the anthems at the Hanozono Stadium near Osaka before playing out an entertaining but error-strewn game.
Wales’ match against Uruguay in Japan’s southwest will also go ahead as scheduled, with Warren Gatland’s men seeking a win that will see them top Pool D and set up a quarter-final with France.
But tournament director Alan Gilpin said he had “no option” but to scrap the Namibia-Canada match scheduled in Kamaishi — a town devastated by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami — due to flooding and landslides.
Namibia coach Phil Davies, a former Welsh international, backed the “logical” cancellation given “safety is paramount”.
“I’ve never seen so much rain and being from Wales we see a lot of rain, but it’s been phenomenal and it was the right decision,” said Davies.
images posted on social media showed the Canadian players helping out with the clean-up operation, as captain Tyler Ardron admitted it was “disappointing” not to play.
Wales will play Uruguay in Kumamoto but most attention focuses on the Japan-Scotland match in Yokohama, a straight shoot-out to see who will join Ireland in the quarter-finals from Pool A.
Japan are four points ahead of the Scots in the table, putting them in the box seat to reach their first quarter-final. For Scotland, even a win might not be enough with a maximum two bonus points on offer for the losing side.
Officials gave the go-ahead for the game after “a comprehensive assessment of the venue and associated infrastructure” but warned fans to arrive early with transport still recovering and to expect reduced catering services.
The crucial fixture had been the source of an ugly war of words between organisers and Scotland who threatened to sue if it were cancelled.
Japan has been left reeling from the unusually large storm, with many people trapped by floodwaters and tens of thousands evacuating overnight.
At least 14 people lost their lives in the devastation with more than 100 injured and several more still missing.
“Such devastation and threat to human life places everything into stark perspective,” said World Rugby chief Bill Beaumont.
“While we have been doing everything we can to ensure Rugby World Cup 2019 matches take place as scheduled, the bigger picture of wellbeing and safety is far more important,” he added.