Scotland consider legal action against World Rugby as typhoon threatens Japan game


Rugby World Cup Pool A: Japan v Scotland
Venue: International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama Date: Sunday, 13 October Kick-off: 11:45 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Scotland, Radio 5 Live, plus text updates on the BBC Sport website and app.

Scottish Rugby believes it has a legal case against the game’s governing body as it seeks to ensure their decisive World Cup match with Japan goes ahead.

World Rugby will make a decision on Sunday morning about whether the match in Yokohama will be played amid concerns over Typhoon Hagibis.

It has already cancelled two Saturday games and declared them a draw – a repeat would mean Scotland’s exit.

But Scottish Rugby’s Mark Dodson says “legal opinion unravels” the case.

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Chief executive Dodson argued that rugby fans around the world “are absolutely astounded” at World Rugby’s “rigidity” and thinks the match should be played on Monday if it cannot go ahead on Sunday.

“We don’t want to get in some sort of legal arm wrestle with World Rugby, but our view is it doesn’t sit right with us, we don’t feel it’s just, we feel there’s other ways,” the chief executive said.

“I think most people feel that if it had been an economic powerhouses – let’s say New Zealand – perhaps more thought would have been given to a flexible approach.

“I think in the court of public opinion, we’ve already won. Right from the get go, we said we will play any place, anywhere, behind closed doors, in full stadiums. We will travel the length and breadth of Japan.

“We have spoken to the Japan Rugby Football Union and they are keen for this game to go on. What we’re asking for is a common-sense approach that allows this game to be played in perfect safety 24 hours after the storm clears.”

Gregor Townsend’s side lie third behind Ireland and Japan in Pool A and must beat the hosts – earning four more points than them – to progress to the quarter-final stage unless the Irish lose to Samoa.

World Rugby 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 allocated two points each and no score registered”.

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But Dodson told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 that “for World Rugby to simply state that the game has to be cancelled goes against the whole sporting integrity of the tournament”.

He added: “World Rugby have pointed us back to the participation agreement and that it is clearly stated there. We’ve had a legal opinion and then we’ve taken a leading sports QC opinion in London that challenges that and unravels the World Rugby case.”

World Rugby hopes the worst of the typhoon will have passed by Sunday and that the game will go ahead, but Dodson is angered by its refusal to consider moving the game to another time or venue.

“We’ve been preparing for this tournament now for the last four years, our guys are over 100 days in camp, we’ve played three games already and the fourth game in this particular case is pivotal,” he added.

“I’m convinced World Rugby and the Japanese authorities are doing everything they can to get this game on, on Sunday. But if their best endeavours fail for whatever reason, that’s when we have an issue.

“My view is that we’re not going to let Scotland be the collateral damage for a decision that was taken in haste.”

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