THE decision by the organisers of the Rugby World Cup to cancel two matches – England v France and New Zealand v Italy, both scheduled for tomorrow – is at best inept and at worst deeply disingenuous.

If they cancel a third – the Scotland-Japan match due to take place on Sunday – they will inflict further damage on the credibility of a tournament which already appears certain to be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

Of course safety has to be the foremost consideration of those organisers, and as Typhoon Hagibis is powerful enough to inflict severe damage on the areas where the two abandoned matches were due to be played, it is understandable they are not going ahead as planned. But the decision not to stage the games in Yokohama and Toyota City as scheduled is one thing; the decision not to hold them at all is quite another.

It is now a decade since World Rugby awarded this tournament to Japan. Between then and now, multiple contingency plans could have been put in place for dealing with the extreme weather which, as has been known for millennia, periodically plagues the country.

There are two basic variations which could be brought into play. One is to move games elsewhere if bad weather makes them unplayable in their original location. The other is to postpone them for a day, two days, three days – more or less however long it takes.

If the tournament organisers truly were unable to employ either variation, they are guilty of ineptitude. But that is hard to believe, which leads to the suspicion they are being disingenuous: that, far from merely being about safety, they have made their decisions because of worry about the implications, commercial and otherwise, of failing to stage the final on time.

But what is the point of holding the final on the appointed day if you can only do that by destroying the credibility of the competition? Whatever happens in that final now, the outcome will surely be tainted by the fact the process to get to that final was not properly carried out.

In all probability, the All Blacks would have beaten Italy and qualified for the quarter-finals as winners of Pool B – a result that would have knocked the Italians out of the tournament. In all probability. But we don’t decide matches on probability, we actually play the games and see what happens.

As for England and France, at least both of them are through to fight another day. But the French might have ended up topping Pool C had the game gone ahead, which would have meant a different opponent in the last eight.

England coach Eddie Jones has said Scotland only had themselves to blame for their potential elimination from the tournament if the Japan game is called off, and New Zealand coach Steve Hansen backed him up.

“You have to accumulate points in your games to put yourself in the right position in case that happened,” Jones said.

What, so everyone should win their pool with a game to spare, or at least qualify with a match in hand? In which case, why bother scheduling four pool matches per team in the first place? It’s a ludicrous argument which, like the cancellations, only serves to compromise the integrity of the competition.