Townsend ‘expects’ backup plan for crucial Japan game after Rugby World Cup hit by Typhoon Hagibis

Scotland Rugby head coach Gregor Townsend says the Scotland camp expect World Rugby to put “contingency plans” in place if their crucial final World Cup Pool A fixture against Japan is called off.

The fixture faces being cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis, which would leave Gregor Townsend’s side in third place in their pool and eliminated from the tournament.

Two matches on Saturday – New Zealand vs. Italy and England vs. France – have already been cancelled due to the typhoon, with each team awarded two points as a result of a draw being declared.

With a decision on Sunday’s game in Yokohama not being made until the same morning, any rescheduling seems unlikely.

 

In a hastily arranged press conference on Thursday morning, Gregor Townsend reiterated Scottish Rugby’s hopes that going ahead with the fixture will be the preferable plan of action.

“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,” he said.

He added: “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.

Journalist Rob Robertson told EN4 News: “The Scotland team have been told the typhoon will reach its peak on Saturday – the eve of their game against Japan – and they have to stay inside their hotel all day for their own safety.”

This will in turn affect the team’s training schedule and could see them go in to the game on Sunday without having had a captain’s run to finalise their game plan before facing the hosts Japan for a place in the quarter finals.

An SRU statement, released earlier in the morning, read: “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.

“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.”

World Rugby also released a statement regarding the issue, with no clear indication of postponement or an alternative to Sunday’s fixtures.

“Every effort is being made to ensure Sunday’s matches will be played as scheduled,” World Rugby said. “A thorough assessment of venues will take place after the typhoon has passed before a final decision is made ‪on Sunday morning.

“The decision to cancel matches has not been taken lightly and has been made in the best interests of public, team, tournament personnel and volunteer safety, based on expert advice and detailed weather information.”

 

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