Rugby World Cup 2019: World Rugby hit back at ‘disappointing’ Scotland comments amid typhoon chaos

Scotland’s game with Japan has not yet been cancelled, and World Rugby will not make an exception for the crucial Pool A clash

Harry Latham-Coyle@hlathamcoyle
Friday 11 October 2019 13:59
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World Rugby have hit back at Scotland rugby‘s “disappointing” comments on the potential cancellation of their clash with Japan rugby.

The game in Yokohama could decide who progresses from Pool A, but has been thrown into doubt by Super Typhoon Hagibis.

The match has not yet been cancelled, but the Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) suggested that World Rugby should make the effort to reschedule or relocate the game should it not be able to be held in Yokohama on Sunday.

This, however, would be a departure from World Rugby’s protocol for adverse weather.

And the governing body of the sport has insisted they are doing all they can to put the fixture on in Yokohama assuming safety is not compromised, but will not make an exception for the game.

“It is disappointing that the Scottish Rugby Union should make such comments at a time when we are doing everything we can to enable all Sunday’s matches to take place as scheduled, and when there is a real and significant threat to public safety owing to what is predicted to be one of the largest and most destructive typhoons to hit Japan since 1958,” World Rugby’s statement said

“Along with the 19 other teams, the Scottish Rugby Union signed the Rugby World Cup 2019 terms of participation, which clearly state in Section 5.3: ‘Where a pool Match cannot be commenced on the day in which it is scheduled, it shall not be postponed to the following day, and shall be considered as cancelled. In such situations, the result shall be declared a draw and Teams will be allocated two Match points each and no score registered.’”

“As outlined during Thursday’s media conference in Tokyo, the core principle that could enable us to explore a departure from the terms of participation, is a fair and consistent application of the rescheduling for all teams in a safe environment for teams, fans and essential match services.

“The sheer predicted scale and impact of the typhoon, and the complexity of team movements for eight matches, meant that an even-handed application was just not possible without putting safety at risk. Therefore, it was the fair and correct decision for all teams to maintain the position outlined in the terms of participation.

“It would be inappropriate to make further comment at a time when we are fully focused on the safety of everyone and this weekend’s matches.”

England’s Pool C decider with France and New Zealand’s game against Italy have already been cancelled on Saturday.

Typhoon Hagibis is one of the largest tropical storms to threaten Japan for decades.

The nature of extreme weather means the exact path of the typhoon is somewhat hard to predict, though tropical storms are among the most easy to forecast and predictable natural disasters.

As things stand, Scotland-Japan will go ahead as scheduled, with World Rugby chiefs to make an assessment and final decision on the morning of the game.

Typhoon Hagibis‘ diameter is 1,000km bigger than Typhoon Faxai, which killed three people in Tokyo last month

Scotland earlier on Friday revealed they had taken legal advice on potentially challenging any decision to cancel the fixture, and that a 24-hour postponement would be a suitable workaround.

“World Rugby is pointing us back to the participation agreement. We’ve had legal opinion – from a leading QC – that challenges World Rugby’s interpretation,” SRU chief executive Mark Dodson said.

“We don’t know that (it’s too late) – we have to challenge it. But we should be talking about this from a rugby perspective, this is about the game and the rugby supporters across the world are absolutely astounded at this rigidity from World Rugby. The common sense approach to this is to play the game 24 hours later on perfect safety where we can make sure that the pool stages are completed, and the sporting integrity of the tournament remains intact.”

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