High waves triggered by a typhoon crash against a ‘torii’ gate near Iwaki, Japan. Picture: KYODO/REUTERS
High waves triggered by a typhoon crash against a ‘torii’ gate near Iwaki, Japan. Picture: KYODO/REUTERS

Kashiwa — Typhoons are just one of the many challenges world champions New Zealand will have to contend with at the upcoming Rugby World Cup, head coach Steven Hansen said after his team’s arrival in Japan was disrupted by the aftermath of typhoon Faxai.

The storm, one of the strongest to hit eastern Japan in recent years, struck shortly before dawn on Monday, killing a woman, damaging buildings and severely disrupting transport. More than 160 flights were cancelled, causing chaos at both of Tokyo’s major airports.

With the world’s top rugby teams arriving this week ahead of the World Cup that begins on September 20, New Zealand, England and Australia were all caught up in the post-typhoon disorder.

Australia delayed their arrival by a day, while England were left stranded at Tokyo’s Narita airport for five hours. New Zealand were more fortunate, managing to get to their hotel in Kashiwa, north of Tokyo, after a two-hour delay.

Coach Steve Hansen shrugged off any concerns about future storms disrupting the tournament, which takes place during Japan’s notorious typhoon season.

“They are all things we know about and we have planned for, so no more concerns,” said Hansen. “Part of our planning is understanding what we are coming into. We are well aware of what we could get.”

Despite the delay, hundreds of All Blacks fans waited outside the hotel to greet the players, with children performing a haka and a choir singing local and New Zealand songs. The players appeared a little overwhelmed by the experience after their long journey.

“A fantastic welcome, mind-blowing really,” said Hansen, who also exchanged gifts with Kashiwa’s mayor.

Favourites New Zealand come into the tournament looking to make history as the only team to win three consecutive World Cups. They begin their campaign against SA on September 21.  

Reuters


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