By Jack Tarrant
YOKOHAMA (Reuters) – Scotland know they will certainly be the second most popular team in Yokohama Stadium on Sunday, should their match against Rugby World Cup hosts Japan go ahead.
The match, which will decide the outcome of Pool A, is still scheduled to go ahead on Sunday despite the impact of Typhoon Hagibis, which made landfall on Sunday.
World Rugby and tournament organisers will make a decision on whether the match goes ahead on Sunday morning once the damage following the typhoon has been assessed.
In the meantime, Scotland are cooped up in their hotel in Yokohama and must battle through an unprecedented preparation for a match.
They must also overcome the mental hurdle of playing against the host nation in a decisive match.
“It will be a sense that it is us against 70,000 people,” said Scotland coach Gregor Townsend on Friday.
“When you play Japan in the World Cup you are the away team, all the other games are neutral.”
“I think we will be going into an atmosphere that will be fairly passionate for the opposition and we have to play as well as we can to win that game.”
“They will get energy from the crowd and we will have to take away their energy.”
Although Scotland were embarrassed against France in Nice in one their two World Cup warm-up matches away from home, Townsend instead pointed to the 36-9 victory over Georgia in Tbilsi as the blueprint for his players to follow on Sunday.
“The way the players approached that game in Georgia was how we want to see them approach this game over the next two days, knowing that the crowd will have an influence and bring a lot of energy,” he said.
“The opposition will get a lot of energy from that so we have to stick to what we know will work in the game and what will work for us.”
Scotland have qualified for the World Cup knockout stages at every tournament bar one coming into Japan 2019 but know they must win by eight points or more to qualify from Pool A ahead of the hosts.
Weather conditions aside, the two teams both play a chaotic, speedy brand of rugby and access to quick ball could be pivotal on Sunday.
Townsend praised the Brave Blossoms for their quick ball ability but also said they didn’t always achieve that legally.
“There are a lot of aspects to a game of rugby and playing at a high tempo and generating quick ball is just one aspect and I would say Japan are one of the best teams in the world at doing that,” said Townsend.
“They do things at the ruck that creates a lot of quick ball, not always legal, and we know they have a very effective way of getting quick ball there.”
Scotland beat Japan 45-10 at the England 2015 Rugby World Cup.
(Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)