Scottish rugby chiefs have reportedly notified World Rugby of their willingness to take legal action to ensure their match against Japan goes ahead on Sunday.
Reports suggest the Scottish Rugby Union is ready to take legal action against World Rugby if it cancels the final Pool A game which is scheduled to take place in Yokohama on Sunday as super typhoon Hagibis prepares to wreak havoc across Japan’s eastern coast.
Such a scenario would result in the match being declared a draw and Japan will advance to the knockout stage with Scotland exiting the World Cup. The Scots need to win to have a chance of progressing to the quarter-finals.
The two Saturday matches – England against France and New Zealand against Italy – were both cancelled yesterday due to the impending storm. But World Rugby has delayed a decision on Scotland against Japan until the morning of the game in the hope that the worst of the weather will have passed.
Gregor Townsend, Scotland’s head coach, insists there is an allowance for force majeure – unforeseeable circumstances – which includes a ‘storm or tempest’ in the participation agreement signed by competing teams over matches that cannot be played. He believes this would allow the match to be rearranged if necessary.
Scotland’s preferred outcome is to move the game back by 24 hours from its current time of 7.45pm on Sunday in Yokohama, to Monday at the same time. They stress that by then typhoon Hagibis is expected to have passed.
However, World Cup rules state that ‘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’.
Senior SRU officials, including chief executive Mark Dodson, spent much of Thursday locked in talks with World Rugby officials in a bid to find a solution to a situation which could eliminate Scotland at the pool stage for only the second time in nine World Cup tournaments. The threat of legal action is understood to be a real one.
An SRU spokesman said: ‘We are in regular dialogue with World Rugby at all levels to work to ensure our fixture against Japan on Sunday can be played as planned. Public safety is the clear priority.
‘With potential impact on our last Pool A fixture, Scottish Rugby fully expects contingency plans to be put in place to enable Scotland to contest for a place in the quarter-finals on the pitch, and will be flexible to accommodate this.’
‘We’re willing to do whatever it takes to get this game on,’ the spokesman added. ‘There are 10,000 Scotland supporters here to see their team play, and for the integrity of the sport and this tournament, we’ve got to find a way to deliver on our undertaking to stage this game.
‘World Rugby said three or four months ago that they had contingency plans in place to address any problems or challenges that might occur, and we took them at their word. We now expect them to deploy those contingency plans and ensure this match goes ahead. The fans, players and everyone who loves rugby will demand nothing less. The whole situation is almost beyond belief.’
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