World Rugby have denied a claim from former England hooker Brian Moore that the All Blacks refused to have their final pool match against Italy postponed.
New Zealand’s match against Italy in Toyota City was one of two games scheduled for Saturday that World Rugby called off due to super typhoon Hagibis. Both Toyota City and Yokohama are expected to be hit by winds of up to 270 km/h.
New Zealand and Italy were in second and third place, respectively, in the Pool B standings, and both teams could mathematically have qualified for the playoffs. Italy had to win with a bonus point, while the All Blacks only needed one log point to advance.
As it is, both teams were allocated two log points each due to the game being called off, resulting in the All Blacks finishing top of the log and Italy remaining third on the table and thus out of contention for a spot in the playoffs.
The tournament rules for the World Cup stated that if a pool match could not take place on the day it was scheduled, it would not be postponed and considered cancelled. World Rugby did say before the tournament began that there were robust contingency plans if games came under threat from the weather.
However, reports suggested that the All Blacks were allegedly offered the chance to face Italy on Monday in a postponed game but refused as they felt it would be too close to the playoffs.
Moore took to Twitter and wrote that New Zealand had made the decision to stick to the original rules, while Italy wanted the game to be played in the following week.
‘I’ve spoken to people from World Rugby and the SRU [Scotland Rugby Union] today about the typhoon disruption,’ Moore tweeted. ‘I’m told New Zealand, and this comes from the people I spoke to and not me, insisted on sticking ridgedly to the rules because they did not want a shorter turnaround before the 1/4 finals.
‘Italy, though very remote potential qualifiers, wanted to play later. Though the cost and logistics are difficult, the teams who want to play offered just to take their squad and ancillary staff. WR insist cancellation of all affected game is the only fair solution.’
In response, a World Rugby spokesperson said that Moore’s claim was ‘categorically untrue’.
World Rugby still have to decide whether hosts Japan’s crucial game against Scotland will go ahead in Yokohama on Sunday or if it will be postponed to the next day, depending on the damage caused by the typhoon.
I’v spoken to people from World Rugby and the SRU today about the typhoon disruption. The following seems relevant –
1. All teams signed up to the tournament rules, but they were mindful of the ‘robust contingency plans’ said to be in place.
— Brian Moore (@brianmoore666) October 10, 2019
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