England must make most of unexpected advantage and enjoy World Cup break – Jason Robinson

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If I was an England player safely tucked away 700 miles from Yokohama knowing my team had topped their World Cup group without lifting a finger this weekend I would be chuffed to bits.

Players want to play of course but I think the majority of them will welcome the free pass. If you look at how tough their potential route to the final will be over three successive weekends then being given one off, where they can chill out and regroup, is massively advantageous.

You have to feel for the poor fans who have shelled out to go to Japan expecting to watch England play France only to find themselves shut inside their hotels for their own safety today.

But the big picture is of a big win for England from this unfortunate situation.

A Rugby World Cup is a phenomenally intense environment to be immersed in for almost two months – it is like nothing else a player experiences – so to be gifted a few days out of the pressure cooker is a result.

It is hard going to week under the pressure and expectation of a World Cup and this gives them a break – plus extra time which their likely opponents Australia won’t have to prepare for next weekend’s quarter-final.

If they had played France who knows what would have happened? Owen Farrell could have gone down with a significant injury or England could have lost someone to suspension for the knockout stages but as it is Eddie Jones knows he will have just about all his squad available and rested up.

Down in Miyazaki, it will feel a world away from the danger zone. It was a smart move from Eddie to fly the squad out. You don’t want players’ minds being messed with by seeing cars being overturned and roofs being torn off or whatever else the typhoon has in store.

Typhoons were always a potential factor when they awarded the World Cup to Japan but I still believe it was the correct call to take the tournament to the Far East.

Outside the weather, it has been a really successful World Cup with some great rugby and stadia full for training, never mind matches.

It would be a pity if Japan 2019 is remembered for the games that didn’t happen rather the ones that did.

It is a pretty much unprecedented situation in international rugby. I remember Ireland had three matches postponed in the 2001 Six Nations, including our trip to Dublin, after the foot and mouth outbreak but they were all played that autumn instead.

These cancelled games have gone for good.

World Rugby should not rearrange them. The regulations state that cancelled games are 0-0 draws. You either have rules or you don’t. And if they are there you have to abide by them.

I don’t see that the England-France game would have made any difference to qualification positions – England would have beaten France to top the group anyway. And I’m absolutely certain that Italy would never have beaten the All Blacks – that would have been a 45-pointer.

Scotland will be panicking like mad that their game against Japan on Sunday does not go the same way but I go back to the point that they knew the rules beforehand.

Let’s just hope Scotland and Japan do get on the field in Yokohama because that game should be a cracker to conclude the group stages of what, for many reasons, will go down as an unforgettable World Cup.

Jason Robinson is an ambassador for Fuzion100, the official rehydration partner of England Rugby. Find out more at CoCofuzion100.co.uk

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