Scotland and World Rugby at loggerheads over lack of World Cup contingency plan
“Scottish Rugby fully expects contingency plans to be put in place” but World Rugby says it will not treat their game with Japan any differently to the other matches
Last Updated: 10/10/19 6:49pm
A row is brewing between Scotland and World Rugby after Super Typhoon Hagibis threw Sunday's crucial World Cup game with Japan into doubt.
Scottish Rugby says it "fully expects contingency plans to be put in place" for Scotland's win-or-bust clash with the Brave Blossoms in Yokohama.
However, World Rugby says it "will not treat the match any differently" to the other games affected by the super typhoon and will not entertain playing the fixture at a later date.
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Gregor Townsend has called on World Cup chiefs to do everything they can to ensure the match goes ahead - even if it means playing the crucial showdown behind closed doors.
Scotland need to beat Japan to progress to the quarter-finals but cancelling the game would see the match recorded as a draw and spell the end of the Scots' campaign without them kicking another ball.
We have to have faith in the organisers that the game will be played even if it's behind closed doors or at a different venue.
Such a shock move is certain to spark a huge backlash from the Scotland faithful, especially as World Rugby had previously insisted it had contingency measures in place for typhoon season.
Murrayfield sources have expressed concern over the competition's sporting integrity if the game were called off.
But having also called off New Zealand's clash with Italy - effectively knocking the Azzurri out of the competition - it appears World Rugby is not willing to budge on its rules that state pool matches cannot be rescheduled to a later date.
Asked if Scotland's game could be pushed back 24 hours, World Rugby tournament director Alan Gilpin said: "We've looked again at the potential to apply some consistent contingency plan across all the games that could be affected this weekend, but it's important we treat all those matches consistently and fairly.
"I think it's important to remember Italy are in exactly the same position as Scotland are in.
"The Japan-Scotland game is clearly is a huge match, we'd love to be playing that game, and we'll be working incredibly hard with our colleagues from Japan Rugby 2019, the host cities and all the authorities on Sunday morning to see that match played.
"But we won't treat that match, if it can't be played, any differently to the other matches."
Scotland head coach Townsend believes there are ways to ensure the game goes ahead and hopes that World Cup organisers are doing everything possible to make that happen.
"We have to have faith in the organisers that the game will be played even if it's behind closed doors or at a different venue," said Townsend.
"There are lots of different venues that might not be affected by the weather. There are training venues. We trained at NTT [Shining Arcs RFC]. Japan trained at Prince Chichibu, which has previously hosted international games.
"What do we need? We need officials, we need players. The way I read the rules was that you can't change days but you could change venues and contingencies would be in place.
"I've since been told there is force majeure (measures in the rules) and things can change because of exceptional circumstances.
"If that means Monday because it takes a day for things to be put back in order, then who knows. But right now I think they're planning on it going ahead on Sunday."
Asked if it would be a bitter blow to see Scotland dumped out on the back of a cancelled fixture, Townsend said: "It will make things very unusual for a World Cup in any sport to be decided by a game being called off on one day.
"Let's say you're looking out of your hotel window at 5pm on Sunday afternoon and it's sunny. It would be strange if a game couldn't take place that day or the following day."