Rugby World Cup 2019: Scotland furious with World Rugby's plan to cancel Japan match that would eliminate them

Scotland face World Cup elimination if their final pool game against Japan on Sunday is abandoned, with World Rugby refusing to relocate or delay the match

Jack de Menezes
Thursday 10 October 2019 07:00
Super Typhoon Hagibis- Japan's Rugby World Cup and F1 under threat

Scotland Rugby are furious at the risk of their Rugby World Cup showdown against Japan Rugby being cancelled due to Super Typhoon Hagibis.

World Rugby confirmed on Thursday that both England vs France and New Zealand vs Italy have been called off, with the worst typhoon in 60 years due to hit Japan this weekend.

Scotland’s must-win clash with Japan, which is scheduled to be the final pool game of the World Cup on Sunday, is also at risk, with Rugby World Cup tournament director Alan Gilpin confirming that if it is not safe to hold the match in Yokohama on Sunday, the game will be cancelled and each team will be awarded two points in a scoreless draw that would send Scotland out of the competition.

The Scotland camp are understood to be furious with the prospect of World Rugby not making plans to relocate the game or delay it to a Monday kick-off, and have called on the governing body to change their approach in order to make sure the match goes ahead as planned.

A Scottish Rugby spokesman said: "We are in regular dialogue with World Rugby at all levels to work to ensure our fixture against Japan on Sunday can be played as planned. Public safety is the clear priority.

"With potential impact on our last Pool A fixture, Scottish Rugby fully expects contingency plans to be put in place to enable Scotland to contest for a place in the quarter-finals on the pitch, and will be flexible to accommodate this."

The statement appears to put the Scottish Rugby Union on a collision course with World Rugby, who categorically said that they will not look for viable alternatives to stage the match elsewhere as they could not apply the same process with other teams.

"We looked pretty exhaustively at all the options,” said Gilpin. “It is important to note is that where we are is in accordance with what we said we would do before the tournament.

"Doing that on this scale, with so many teams to move around, and to be able to deliver safely the exit of 12 teams after the pool stage, we couldn’t guarantee contingency plans consistently. If we can't do it for all, we can’t do it for any.

"We have looked again at the potential to apply some consistency to our contingency plan across all the games and we treat all the matches fairly. Italy are in the same position as Scotland are in. It is a huge match and we would love to play that game. But we won’t treat that match any differently.

Akira Shimazu, Japan Rugby 2019 chief executive, added: "It’s complex in its own right with 40 pool matches in four weeks, geography as well, very little flexibility exists and that is why the rules are as they are and that is what we are applying now."

Tournament director Alan Gilpin confirmed that England vs France has been cancelled

"New Zealand and Italy and England v France had to be cancelled. In regard to the 13th October, we have four matches planned, for each of the venues we will be examining the details going forward and the typhoon will have passed Japan then so we make an assessment on Sunday morning."

"The decision will be made in the morning. In principle, we make the decision six hours before kick-off but we would like to make this as early as possible on Sunday. We will look at the damage, we will consider carefully. We will make every effort so the spectators will see the match."

Should the match be cancelled, Japan will also be guaranteed first place in Pool A, given that they will be five points ahead of Ireland – who play Samoa on Saturday in Fukuoka in a match that should not be affected by the typhoon. Even if Ireland secure a bonus point-win in that match, they would finish second to Japan due to their head-to-head record, with Scotland eliminated.

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