Blame it on the weather: how typhoon caused storm at Rugby World Cup | Sunday Observer

Blame it on the weather: how typhoon caused storm at Rugby World Cup

TOKYO AFP How has it come to this, that ahead of one of the most eagerly anticipated games of the Rugby World Cup, the talk is of weather forecasts and threats of legal action? Sunday’s key pool match between hosts Japan and Scotland in Yokohama remains in the balance, with organisers waiting to see what damage is done by Typhoon Hagibis before deciding whether the game can proceed in safety. Hagibis is far bigger than Typhoon Faxai, which struck Japan last month causing three deaths and scores of injuries.

For the first time in World Cup history, two matches -- the New Zealand v Italy and England v France games scheduled for Saturday -- were cancelled on safety grounds.

England and France were already through to the quarter-finals, while Italy would have needed to beat the All Blacks for the first time to have a chance of joining them.

Scotland, assuming Ireland don’t slip up against Samoa on Saturday, have to beat Japan to go through as two points for a cancelled match would see them knocked out. Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson has insisted they won’t become “collateral damage”, saying he is prepared to take legal action if the game is called off.

World Rugby argues its rules were clear long before the tournament started, but the Scots believe a ‘force majeure’ clause compels officials to do all they can to get games on.

Significantly, however, when it looked like Ireland’s game against Samoa on Saturday would fall victim to Hagibis, Scotland coach Gregor Townsend said: “The Ireland game cannot be postponed, it has to be played that day.” Santa Claus - On Saturday a spokesman for World Rugby, which had already expressed “disappointment” with Scottish Rugby, tweeted: “Even with a backup venue for every venue (which there is), it would have been impossible to operate a fair contingency plan safely.” But in the 10 years since Japan was awarded the World Cup could World Rugby have done more to guard against cancellation, such as scheduling reserve days? Reserve days bring their own logistical problems and player welfare issues, for example if a four-day turnaround between games becomes only three.