It's on: Japan v Scotland to go ahead in major relief for organisers

The Sydney Morning Herald Sports 4 days ago

Japan's Pool A decider against Scotland looks set to go ahead in Yokohama despite widespread damage caused by Typhoon Hagibis.

World Rugby is expected to make an announcement on the tournament's final pool game by 1pm AEDT on Sunday, but team sources have told the Herald indications were the game would go ahead. It is scheduled for 9.45pm AEDT at Yokohama Stadium.

It would be a major relief for tournament organisers and fans and come after a tense few days of posturing from both sides. Scotland, which face elimination from the pool stages, raised the prospect of legal action after World Rugby ruled out rescheduling the game.

After Ireland beat Samoa in a seven-try blitz in Fukuoka to top the pool, the loser of Sunday's game will exit the tournament. Japan has never made a quarter-final, while Scotland has exited at the pool stage only once before since the first World Cup was held in 1987.

Three games have already been cancelled, most recently the Pool B match between Namibia and Canada which was scheduled to be contested on Sunday afternoon in Kamaishi.

Game on: After acrimony and legal threats, Scotland will have their fate in their own hands.

"Owing to the level 5 evacuation order remaining operational following Typhoon Hagibis, World Rugby and the Japan 2019 Organising Committee have cancelled today’s Rugby World Cup 2019 Pool B match between Namibia and Canada in Kamaishi on safety grounds," organisers said in statement.

"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."

The Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium was built on the site of schools destroyed by the deadly 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The organising committee's CEO Akira Shimazu added: “We considered every possibility to make this game happen, in the end we had no option but to cancel the match to ensure the safety of the fans, teams, volunteers, and all others involved.

"It was both a difficult and emotional decision to make, however, I feel it’s the right decision."

Typhoon Hagibis, one of the most powerful tropical cyclones to ever hit central Japan, left millions confined indoors and streets deserted as record rains and fierce winds flooded rivers and threatened widespread damage.

The Namibia-Canada match, which had no bearing on the rest of the tournament with both sides out of contention for the quarter-finals, will be recorded as a draw. It is only the third World Cup match to have been cancelled.

Rain or shine: The Cherry Blossoms train in a downpour at Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium in Minato Ward, Tokyo, on Saturday.

Two of Saturday's matches, the Pool C decider between England and France and the Pool B match between world champions New Zealand and Italy, were scratched on Thursday when it became clear the typhoon would make landfall in central Honshu.

Organisers later confirmed the Pool C match between the United States and Tonga in Osaka and Wales's final Pool D match against Uruguay in Kumamoto would go ahead as scheduled on Sunday.

There will be an inspection of conditions at Yokohama International Stadium on Sunday morning before a call is made on whether or not to play the final match of the day, organisers said.

Japan's Pool A clash with Scotland will decide which of the two teams reaches the quarter-finals. If it is cancelled, the host nation will progress.

Ticket holders to all cancelled matches will be entitled to a full face-value refund.

With Reuters


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