DAVID BARNES in YOKOHAMA
SCOTTISH RUGBY Chief Executive has spoken for the first time since news broke earlier this week that Scotland could be bumped out of the World Cup if the Yokohama Stadium does not recover from the impact of Typhoon Hagibis in time to host Scotland’s crucial final pool match against host nation Japan on Sunday.
He has made it clear that Scotland are not ready to retreat quietly if World Rugby decide to cancel the match rather than relocate or reschedule. Having sought legal advice, he he vowed that ‘we’re not going to let Scotland be the collateral damage for a decision that was taken in haste’.
“I think there’s alternatives around Japan,” he told Radio 4’s Today programme. “The point we are talking about now is not whether the game will take place on Sunday, that will be a purely meteorological issue, the issue will be if it can’t take place then we’re really, really pressing the point that we need to have to get this game delayed 24 hours later.
“First is and most important is that we look after the safety of the general public. The second thing is for World Rugby to just simply state that the game has to be cancelled goes against the whole sporting integrity of the tournament. We have been preparing for this tournament now for four years, the guys have had over 100 days in camp, we’ve played games already and the fourth game in this particular case is pivotal.
“We’ve had consistent dialogue since the last three or four days around this with senior people at World Rugby, but World Rugby seem to be determined to stick to its plan that the match is either played on Sunday or indeed it is cancelled, and to have it cancelled and have our ability to progress from this group put at peril, we believe is absolutely unacceptable.
“World Rugby is pointing us back to the participation agreement. We’ve had legal opinion – from a leading QC – that challenges World Rugby’s interpretation.”
There is now only two games to go before the match, but Dodson insisted that it is not too late to find a resolution.
“We don’t know that – we have to challenge it,” he said. “But we should be talking about this from a rugby perspective, this is about the game and the rugby supporters across the world are absolutely astounded at this rigidity from World Rugby. The common sense approach to this is to play the game 24 hours later on perfect safety where we can make sure that the pool stages are completed, and the sporting integrity of the tournament remains intact.
“My point is that World Rugby will be listening to what is happening around the world – I think opinion on social media is rising all the time about the injustice of this. I feel for our Italian friends as well, they had no participation in any of the decisions and they are on their way home already, and my view is that we’re not going to let Scotland be the collateral damage for a decision that was taken in haste.”