DAVID BARNES in YOKOHAMA
WORLD RUGBY plan an inspection at the International Stadium Yokohama ahead of Scotland’s pivotal World Cup Pool A clash against host nation Japan at 6am local-time tomorrow (10pm Saturday BST), with a final decision on whether the stadium is playable within two hours (midnight BST).
However, tournament organisers say they will only be able to make that call once it is safe enough for inspections to take place following the arrival of Typhoon Higibis on mainland Japan today [Saturday]. The rain has been torrential all day and there were high winds for a couple of hours during the evening, but the brunt of the storm seems to have been felt 80 miles north in Shizuoka, near where Scotland were earlier this week. The full extent of the damage will not be clear for some hours.
There is other factors in play, with surrounding infrastructure and transport links also potentially impacted, and the possibility that the game could be played behind closed doors appears to be very much alive.
“Our primary consideration is the safety of everyone,” said a World Rugby spokesman. “We will undertake detailed venue inspections as soon as practically possible with an announcement following as soon as decisions are made in the morning.
“Our message to fans continues to be stay indoors today, stay safe and monitor official Rugby World Cup social and digital channels.”
With World Rugby appearing to be adamant that the game cannot be moved or rescheduled if the stadium in Yokohama is deemed unplayable, the continued involvement of Scotland at this World Cup now relies solely on the outcome of the inspection.
Ireland removed the one other lifeline the team had earlier today, when they secured a bonus-point 47-5 victory over Samoa in their final pool match. If the Pacific Islanders had managed to secure a shock landslide victory over Joe Schmidt’s men, then the two points Scotland get for a cancelled game would have been enough, but not any more.
Now they must play the game and win by four clear league points (ie. a win without a bonus point whilst depriving Japan of a losing/four-try bonus point, or a win with a bonus point whilst restricting to Japan to only one losing/four-try bonus point) if they want to progress to a quarter-final showdown against New Zealand in Tokyo next Saturday.