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World Rugby hits back at 'disappointing' comments from Scottish Rugby Union

Sunday’s game between the Scots and Japan will either go ahead as scheduled or be cancelled.

WORLD RUGBY HAS stressed once again that the World Cup clash between Scotland and Japan will either be played as scheduled on Sunday in Yokohama or be cancelled and recorded as a 0-0 draw, likely ensuring that the Scots are knocked out of the tournament.

The sport’s governing body will not consider relocating or rescheduling the fixture.

Typhoon Hagibis is set to hit the Yokohama and Tokyo area of Japan with devastating effect tomorrow, ensuring two games that had been scheduled for Saturday have already been cancelled.

japan-asia-typhoon Hagibis is closing in on Japan. Source: AP/PA Images

World Rugby is hopeful that Hagibis won’t leave a path of severe damage behind it, forcing Sunday’s fixture between Scotland and Japan to be called off, but that is a very real prospect given that the typhoon is expected to be extremely powerful.

Indeed, World Rugby said Hagibis will be “one of the largest and most destructive typhoons to hit Japan since 1958.”

The governing body hit back at “disappointing” comments from the Scottish Rugby Union, who have indicated that they are looking at taking legal action against World Rugby if Sunday’s game is called off.

World Rugby insisted that it is doing everything in its power to ensure that the fixture between the hosts and Gregor Townsend’s side will be played at International Stadium Yokohama but again ruled out any prospect of the game being moved to a new location or rescheduled for a later date.

If Ireland get at least a losing bonus point against Samoa in Fukuoka tomorrow and then Sunday’s game is cancelled – therefore being recorded as a 0-0 draw and two match points each – Scotland will exit the World Cup at the pool stage, with Japan advancing as Pool A winners and Ireland going through as runners-up.

That would leave Ireland facing a quarter-final against New Zealand, while Japan would take on South Africa.

World Rugby stressed that it hopes Sunday’s game will go ahead as scheduled in Yokohama at 7.45pm local time [11.45am Irish time], but also underlined that the fixture will be treated in the same way as the cancelled England v France and New Zealand v Italy games were.

“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,” reads World Rugby’s statement.

japan-asia-typhoon Empty shelves at a supermarket in the Chiba prefecture, near Tokyo, as Typhoon Hagibis approaches. Source: AP/PA Images

“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.” 

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella  / Reports from Fukuoka

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