By Mitch Phillips
TOKYO (Reuters) – The under-threat Rugby World Cup game between Japan and Scotland will go ahead as scheduled, tournament organisers said on Sunday, after an inspection of the Yokohama Stadium where it is due to be played after a powerful typhoon.
The decisive Pool A match had been in doubt after two Saturday fixtures were cancelled due to safety concerns surrounding Typhoon Hagibis. Sunday’s game between Namibia and Canada in Kamaishi was also called off because of damage caused in the area by the storm.
Sunday’s other two pool games between the United States and Tonga in Osaka and between Wales and Uruguay in Kumamoto will also go ahead after passing safety inspections.
“The decision was taken following a comprehensive assessment of the venue and associated infrastructure on Sunday morning in partnership with the Host City,” organisers said in a statement.
“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.”
They also said fans should expect a significantly reduced level of spectator service and as a result are allowing them to bring in their own drinks – but non-alcoholic only.
Ireland beat Samoa on Saturday to secure qualification from Pool A with 16 points and Scotland must win Sunday’s game to have any chance of joining them.
A win or draw for Japan, who have lost all seven of their previous games against the Scots, or a bonus point for losing within seven points if Scotland don’t get a bonus point, would send the host nation into the quarter-finals for the first time.
If Scotland win with a bonus point they would progress other than in the unlikely, but possible, scenario of Japan losing by seven or less and scoring four tries, to take two bonus points.
The group winners will face South Africa in the quarter-finals, while the runners-up will take on double defending champions New Zealand.
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Paul Tait)