Scotland coach Townsend adamant that Japan clash will be played

Rugby World Cup
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman in Japan

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend isn't entertaining the possibility that his side's pivotal Pool A clash with Japan could be cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis.

Two of Saturday's matches- New Zealand vs Italy and England vs France - were cancelled by World Rugby with Typhoon Hagibis expected to hit Tokyo late on Saturday.

Scotland are scheduled to play Japan on Sunday night in Yokohama with the winner likely to secure the second quarter-final spot in Pool A.

Townsend dismissed the possibility of a complete cancellation when asked what his reaction would be to that.

"You are asking the wrong person. I think there has to be a game," he said.

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"The game looks likely to be on Sunday, according to what we are hearing. If that game is on Sunday at Yokohama, great.

"A lot of our fans will be at the game. I know there will be a lot of home fans as well - and what a spectacle it will be.

"It will make things very unusual for a World Cup in any sport to be decided by a game being called off on one day.

"Let’s say if you are looking out your hotel window at 5 o’clock on Sunday afternoon and it is sunny, it would be quite strange if a game couldn’t take place that day."

When news of the cancellations was announced, Scotland Rugby released a very strong statement about their stance on their match.

Townsend said he was optimistic their match would go ahead, given World Rugby's calls on Thursday.

"We believe that the game hasn’t been cancelled because the weather will be better on Sunday and it looks like the game will be played," he said.

"That’s what we have to put faith in, that they have made that call with a lot of certainty and confidence that the game will be played on Sunday night.

Townsend said the option of moving venues, which had been previously discussed, did not appear to be necessary anymore.

"Maybe yesterday, when it looked like the weather was going to be rougher on Sunday, there seemed to be discussion about looking at an alternative venue," he said.

"I know the situation changes a lot but what we have been told is that Sunday looks clear now.

"Saturday is the day when the typhoon comes in, and it comes through quite quickly.

The big question mark over the match's viability will be the impact the storm has on the venue and whether any damage would be enough to halt the game.

"I have looked at the weather and Sunday night is meant to be nice and calm. Now what may happen is infrastructure may not be in place, even though the weather is nice," he said.

Townsend said no matter what the eventual decision, he had to "have faith" that the match would go on.

"We have got to believe, and have faith in the organisers, that the game will be played, even if it is behind closed doors or played at a different venue."

Scotland and Japan are set to play at Yokohama Stadium. Photo: Getty ImagesThere has been speculation that the match could be postponed until Monday, against strict tournament rules, and Townsend said anything could happen.

"The way I read the rules was you can’t change days, but you could change venues – contingencies would be in place," he said.

"I have since been told there is force majeure, that things can change because of exceptional circumstances.

"If that means Monday because it takes a day for things to be put back in order, then who knows. But just now I think they are planning for it to go ahead on Sunday."

This disruption is another setback for Scotland who already faced a three-day turnaround from their match against Russia, compared to Japan's eight days.

Scotland takes on Japan at Yokohama Stadium on Sunday October 13 at Yokohama Stadium, kicking off at 7:45pm local, 9:45pm AEDT, LIVE on Foxtel and RUGBY.com.au RADIO, Rugby Xplorer and Amazon Alexa.