DAVID BARNES in YOKOHAMA
SCOTLAND will have a chance to fight for a spot in the quarter-finals of the 2019 Rugby World Cup on the field of play after an early morning inspection of the International Stadium in Yokohama eventually returned good news.
Gregor Townsend‘s team must now defeat Japan by four clear league points (which means a win without a bonus point whilst preventing the opposition getting.bonus point in defeat, or a win with a bonus point and limiting the opposition to a single bonus point in defeat), in order to finish second in Pool A and progress to a last eight showdown against reigning champions and tournament favourites New Zealand next Saturday.
The game will kick off at 7.45pm local time/11.45am BST today [Sunday], with a full crowd in attendance
At one stage, it seemed highly doubtful that this match would go ahead, due to a combination of concern about the impact of Typhoon Hagibis in Yokohama (specifically in and round the stadium), and a lack of contingency planning by tournament organisers World Rugby, who tied themselves in knots this week over issues relating to precedent and the wording of the World Cup participation agreement signed by all competing teams.
If the game was cancelled, it would have been registered as a draw with both teams picking up two match points, which would have left Scotland in third place in the pool and therefore knocked out of the competition. It would
However, the storm – whilst causing havoc in certain areas of Japan with a significant human toll – did not impact Yokohama as heavily as some forecasters had predicted.
Townsend’s team still face an almighty challenge against the only unbeaten team in Pool A, who are playing to finish top of the group so as to secure a slightly easier quarter-final draw against South Africa. A highly vocal one partisan crowd of around 70,000 will watch the game at the International Stadium Yokohama.
The Namibia versus Canada match, which was supposed to be played in Kamaishi today, has been cancelled on safety grounds. With World rugby explaining that: “Kamaishi is situated in a highly mountainous area, including mountains directly behind the main stand of the stadium. There have been landslides and flooding in the vicinity of the stadium and along access roads to the venue following torrential rain throughout the night”.
Meanwhile, the Pool C match between USA and Tonga at Hanazono and the Pool D match between Wales and Uruguay at Kumamoto will go ahead as scheduled.
A statement from World Rugby said –
The decision was taken following a comprehensive assessment of the venue and associated infrastructure on Sunday morning in partnership with the Host City. World Rugby and the Japan Rugby 2019 Organising Committee would like to thank everyone involved for their significant efforts to enable the match to be played as scheduled following one of largest and most powerful typhoons to hit Japan in recent years.
Fans attending Sunday night’s match are advised to check travel operator information before departing and plan to arrive early as it may take longer than usual to enter the stadium. Fans should also expect a significantly reduced level of spectator service in terms of catering and merchandise sales owing to limitations on venue staff availability as a result of the typhoon.
To ensure the best-possible fan experience, the decision has been made to allow fans to bring non-alcoholic beverage into the venue for personal consumption. All drinks will be decanted into cups at the point of entry. This change in policy will only be operational for this match. As per the earlier announcement, fans are permitted to bring food into venues for personal consumption.