By Nick Mulvenney
TOKYO (Reuters) – The Scottish Rugby Union have been referred to a disputes committee over their comments about the potential cancellation of their World Cup clash against Japan, organisers said on Tuesday.
The scratching of Sunday’s match in Yokohama due to Typhoon Hagibis would have eliminated the Scots from the tournament and SRU chief Mark Dodson threatened legal action to enforce a postponement.
Dodson had also said organisers would have taken action to ensure the match went ahead if it had involved world champions New Zealand, comments which could lead to a charge of bringing the game into disrepute.
“Under our tournament rules, we’re very careful that people behave appropriately and as a result of that we’ve referred to independent disputes committee the behaviour and comments of the Scottish Rugby Union,” tournament director Alan Gilpin told a news conference.
In the event, the match went ahead just a few hours after the typhoon ripped through Tokyo, with the host nation winning 28-21 to qualify for the quarter-finals and send the Scots home.
Gilpin hailed the work of the organising committee and local governments for getting the match on and the 67,666 crowd safely in and out of the stadium so quickly after the worst typhoon to hit the region in decades.
“Putting any match on is an incredibly complex task on that scale but to do so in those circumstances is remarkable,” he added.
“We know they are remarkable, which is why we had a high degree of optimism that we could get this done.
“There were people in the venue working in different roles and volunteers whose homes had been destroyed that day. Their desire to get the game on and resilience is to be absolutely applauded.”
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont also paid tribute to the organising committee and offered his sympathies to those affected by a typhoon, which has cost at least 66 lives.
“In many ways, Japan’s victory over Scotland was for a nation, not just rugby,” he said.
“It reflected the wonderful human warmth and family spirit that has characterised this Rugby World Cup. The Japanese people are the heartbeat of the tournament and have welcomed the teams and fans with open arms.”
Three matches on the final weekend of the pool did fall victim to the weather and Japan Rugby Chief Executive Akira Shimazu said that was a matter of regret.
“It gave us a lot of sadness and we would like to sincerely apologise for that,” he said.
World Rugby said Asia’s first World Cup continued to break records with 1.8 million tickets sold – 99% of those available – 863,000 people crowding into fan zones and 200,000 Japan team replica shirts sold.
Chief Executive Brett Gosper said the Japan television audience for Sunday’s match was tracking to exceed the 50 million mark – a first for a rugby game.
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)