Scots face charges for legal threats

Scotland's Finn Russell (left) and Jamie Ritchie trying to stop Kenki Fukuoka of Japan during their Pool A match last Sunday. Fukuoka scored two tries in the 28-21 win. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Scotland's Finn Russell (left) and Jamie Ritchie trying to stop Kenki Fukuoka of Japan during their Pool A match last Sunday. Fukuoka scored two tries in the 28-21 win. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

World Rugby slams 'disappointing' remarks about status of Japan match during Hagibis

TOKYO • Rugby World Cup organisers yesterday filed misconduct charges against the Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) over comments made about Typhoon Hagibis after the team threatened legal action if their final Pool A game was cancelled because of the deadly storm.

World Rugby said that comments made by SRU chief executive Mark Dodson had "brought the game into disrepute" as tournament rules state that any pool-stage game which is unplayable owing to the weather cannot be staged on a different day.

Scotland faced elimination if last Sunday's game against hosts Japan was called off and counted as a 0-0 draw, as was the case with three other fixtures over the weekend.

Last Friday, Dodson told reporters his view was "we are not going to let Scotland be the collateral damage for a decision that was taken in haste".

The match went ahead, and the Scots' 28-21 loss meant it was only the second time in their history they have failed to progress past the pool stage. The hosts became the first Asian team to qualify for the knockout phase.

Yesterday, tournament director Alan Gilpin said that "under our tournament rules, we are very careful that people behave appropriately".

"As a result of that, we've referred to an independent disputes committee the behaviour and comments of the Scottish Rugby Union," he said. "Because of that, it would be inappropriate to comment any further."

World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper also slammed the Scottish comments as "unhelpful and disappointing" and stressed organisers were not influenced by any discussions with member unions.

NATURE'S WRATH

Please understand, this was an exceptional event that was thrown at this tournament and the tournament has handled it brilliantly. We knew this was coming, but not on that scale.

BRETT GOSPER, World Rugby chief executive, on Typhoon Hagibis.

TRIBUTE TO EFFICIENCY

In many ways, Japan's victory over Scotland was a victory for the people of Japan and rugby. It reflected the wonderful human warmth and spirit and family that has characterised this very special Rugby World Cup.

BILL BEAUMONT, World Rugby chairman, on the work done to get the Yokohama venue ready for the Scotland-Japan game, 24 hours after Hagibis struck.

"We made a call based on the volume of what was in front of us. We were ready for typhoons. There is nothing exceptional about typhoons in this country," he said. "But this was an exceptional typhoon that we haven't had the likes of since the '50s.

"Please understand, this was an exceptional event that was thrown at this tournament and the tournament has handled it brilliantly. We knew this was coming, but not on that scale."

Gilpin agreed with his boss, adding: "Ultimately, we believed at the time and we know now we made the right decision to scrap the games."

Hagibis slammed into Japan on Saturday night, unleashing fierce winds and unprecedented rainfall that triggered landslides and flooding, killing more than 70 people.

According to the Irish Times, there is no precedent in the Cup, and while a fine is the most likely punishment if the SRU is found guilty, a points deduction from their pool is another possibility.

Scotland finished third on 11 points to guarantee their place at the 2023 edition in France.

But despite the disappointment of the cancellations - and clear financial costs - World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont was adamant there would be no concerns about holding a second Cup in Japan.

"No hesitation at all in coming back to Japan for another Rugby World Cup. None whatsoever," he stressed, before paying tribute to staff and volunteers for ensuring the Scotland-Japan game would go ahead in Yokohama, only 24 hours after the typhoon struck the city.

"In many ways, Japan's victory over Scotland was a victory for the people of Japan and rugby," he added. "It reflected the wonderful human warmth and spirit and family that has characterised this very special Rugby World Cup."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 16, 2019, with the headline 'Scots face charges for legal threats'. Print Edition | Subscribe