Scotland’s must-win World Cup game against the hosts Japan – “the biggest match of our careers” – will go ahead, official tournament broadcasters have reported, after organisers inspected the stadium on Sunday morning to assess the damage caused by Typhoon Hagibis.
The storm, the biggest to hit Japan’s capital in 61 years, shut down the city’s transport system and closed the two international airports. It had forced the cancellation of two Saturday matches, England’s group decider against France in Yokohama and New Zealand’s meeting with Italy in Toyota. Namibia’s match against Canada in Kamaishi was called off on safety grounds early on Sunday but Wales versus Uruguay and USA’s game with Tonga were given the green light by the tournament organisers.
Scottish Rugby were considering taking legal action if the match with Japan had been called off and not rescheduled. World Rugby officials visited the International Stadium in Yokohama, which has attracted two crowds of more than 63,000 this tournament, at 6am local time and were under pressure to give the go-ahead for a match that will determined the eighth quarter-finalists. Scotland need to win and deny Japan a bonus point to claim it.
Ireland had guaranteed their progress on Saturday with a bonus-point victory over Samoa. A Japan win would take the hosts back to the top of the group and give them a quarter-final against South Africa.
Before inspecting the conditions for the Japan v Scotland game, World Cup organisers released a statement on the other Sunday games. It read: “World Rugby and the Japan Rugby 2019 Organising Committee have announced that today’s Rugby World Cup 2019 Pool C match between USA and Tonga at Hanazono (6.45am BST), and Rugby World Cup 2019 Pool D match between Wales and Uruguay at Kumamoto (9.15am BST) will go ahead as scheduled. The decision was taken following an assessment of the venue and associated infrastructure this morning in partnership with the respective host cities. World Rugby and the Japan Rugby 2019 Organising Committee would like to thank everyone involved in getting the matches on.”
A statement on the Namibia v Canada game read: “Kamaishi is situated in a highly mountainous area, including mountains directly behind the main stand of the stadium. There have been landslides and flooding in the vicinity of the stadium and along access roads to the venue following torrential rain throughout the night. The safety of all involved in Rugby World Cup 2019 is our primary consideration and fans are advised not to travel to Kamaishi or the venue, which will be closed.”