Italian rugby great Leonardo Ghiraldini reportedly broke down in tears after his country’s Rugby World Cup match against the All-Blacks was cancelled.
Both the Italy-New Zealand and England-France matches have been cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibas, a category five storm which is predicted to strike Japan on Saturday.
It is the first time in the World Cup’s 32-year history that matches have been abandoned. Each team will be awarded two points and results listed as a scoreless draw.
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Ghiraldini, a 15-year veteran of Italy’s national team, had only recently returned to match fitness following a serious knee injury.
The 34-year-old is yet to take to the field at the World Cup this year, and was slated to play a 20-minute cameo as his final farewell to international rugby.
Mail on Sunday rugby writer Nik Simon took to Twitter to reveal the emotional aftermath the decision had taken on the Italian camp, who had already been eliminated from the tournament.
“In the chaos of Typhoon Hagibis, spare a thought for Italy,” he wrote.
“Ghiraldini was set for a 20min farewell cameo against NZ in the final rugby match of his 15yr career.
“He spent months rehabbing and broke down in tears when news of cancellation broke in training. Sombre mood in Toyota.”
In the chaos of Typhoon Hagibis, spare a thought for Italy. Ghiraldini was set for a 20min farewell cameo against NZ in the final rugby match of his 15yr career. He spent months rehabbing and broke down in tears when news of cancellation broke in training. Sombre mood in Toyota.— Nik Simon (@Nik_Simon88) October 10, 2019
Italian captain Sergio Parisse, the second-most capped player in international play, has also been denied a farewell due to the storm.
Parisse played 142 tests for Italy.
Category five storm causes chaos
The category 5 storm that is forecast to strike Japan on Saturday has caused major headaches for organisers, who on Thursday announced the first abandonments in the tournament's 32-year history.
The pool-deciding England match was scheduled for Yokohama, which is in the direct path of the tropical storm while New Zealand's match was to be in Toyota City, on the fringe.
The games were scheduled for the same day the category 5 storm is set to make landfall and organisers said in a statement they did not want to risk player, official and spectator safety.
They said the "risks were too challenging" to consider shifting the match venues.
A decision was still to be made on the status of matches on Sunday, including a key clash between Japan and Scotland in Yokohama.