Scotland plead for World Cup go-ahead as typhoon threatens campaign

Gregor Townsend urged Rugby World Cup authorities to leave no stone unturned in ensuring his side’s must-win match against Japan is played as an incoming super typhoon threatens to end their campaign. (Reuters)
Updated 10 October 2019

Scotland plead for World Cup go-ahead as typhoon threatens campaign

  • Scotland need to beat the hosts in Yokohama on Sunday to have a chance of reaching the quarter-finals
  • Officials announced that Saturday’s matches between England and France, and Italy and New Zealand, have been axed because of the expected impact of Super Typhoon Hagibis

TOKYO: Scotland coach Gregor Townsend has urged World Cup chiefs “to do all they can” to make sure his side’s must-win match against Japan is played as an incoming super typhoon threatens to end their campaign.
Scotland need to beat the hosts in Yokohama on Sunday to have a chance of reaching the quarter-finals. But if the match is canceled they will be going home.
In an unprecedented move for the tournament, officials announced Thursday that Saturday’s matches between England and France, and Italy and New Zealand, had been axed because of the expected impact of Super Typhoon Hagibis, likely to be the biggest storm to hit Japan this year.
Scotland’s final Pool A fixture against Japan in Yokohama, at 7:45 p.m. (1045 GMT) on Sunday, is also in the projected path of the typhoon, but officials will delay a decision on whether it will go ahead until the morning of the match.
Cancellation would see the match declared a 0-0 draw, with both Japan and Scotland receiving two points each.
That would put Japan through to the knockout phase, with Ireland likely to join them provided they don’t slip up against Samoa on Saturday.
It would also mean Scotland were out, leading to more World Cup heartache after a controversial refereeing decision led to them being denied a quarter-final win over Australia four years ago.
But Townsend, during a hastily-arranged press conference at Scotland’s hotel in Hamamatsu on Thursday, said: “We believe the game hasn’t been canceled because the weather forecast is much improved for Sunday.
“It looks like the game will be played and that’s what we have to keep faith with.
“I’d hope that everyone who is involved in the tournament would want the game to be played and that they will do all they can to ensure that it is.
“We have to have faith in the organizers that the game will be played even if it’s behind closed doors or at a different venue.”
Former Scotland fly-half Townsend added: “The way I read the rules was that you can’t change days but you could change venues and contingencies would be in place.
“I’ve since been told there is a force majeure (provision in the rules) and things can change because of exceptional circumstances.
“If that means (playing the game on) Monday because it takes a day for things to be put back in order then who knows. But right now I think they’re planning on it going ahead on Sunday.”
Scottish Rugby responded to Thursday’s announcement by World Rugby with a statement that said it “fully expects contingency plans to be put in place to enable Scotland to contest for a place in the quarter-finals on the pitch.”
But World Cup tournament director Alan Gilpin said Thursday teams knew long before the event started that “matches in the pool phase wouldn’t be postponed.”
He added: “We have looked again at the potential to apply some consistency to our contingency plan across all the games and we treat all the matches fairly.
“Italy are in the same position as Scotland are in. It (Japan v Scotland) is a huge match and we would love to play that game.
“But we won’t treat that match any differently.”


What next for Premier League’s ‘Project Restart’

Updated 03 June 2020

What next for Premier League’s ‘Project Restart’

  • Restart to begin with 2 matches on June 17, to ensure every side played same number of games

LONDON: The Premier League's return is just two weeks away but there are plenty of details for the 20 clubs in the English top-flight to work out before competitive action resumes on June 17.

AFP Sport looks at what is on the agenda at the latest in a series of meetings between the clubs on Thursday.

There have been squabbles over how final league standings should be decided if the season cannot be completed but clubs need a contingency arrangement if a spike in coronavirus cases wrecks their plans.

Most of the teams in the bottom half of the table are reportedly pushing for relegation to be scrapped if the season is not completed on the field.

That still seems highly unlikely, with the English Football Association and English Football League both insisting on promotion and relegation throughout the pyramid.

A points-per-game formula is the most likely option and is part of the reason why the restart will begin with two matches on June 17, to ensure every side has played the same number of games.

Once the two outstanding games — Manchester City vs. Arsenal and Aston Villa vs. Sheffield United — have been played, all 20 sides will have nine games remaining.

No dates for other matches have yet been released, but fixtures are expected to continue from where they left off in March and be crammed into just five weeks ahead of the FA Cup final on August 1.

A long layoff, little time together in contact training and a gruelling schedule mean players' bodies will be pushed to the limits.

In an attempt to minimize injuries and fatigue, world governing body FIFA has allowed leagues to temporarily change their rules to allow five substitutes.

Chelsea have also reportedly proposed increasing the number of substitutes available from seven to nine.

However, critics have suggested those changes will simply play into the hands of the bigger clubs with deeper squads.

Premier League clubs appear to have won their battle to have games played in their own grounds rather than on neutral sites.

However, the UK's national lead for football policing confirmed last week that a "small number" of fixtures will take place at neutral venues.

That is likely to include any match that could see Liverpool crowned champions for the first time in 30 years, to try and avoid crowds gathering at Anfield.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is unconcerned by playing at neutral venues, with results from four rounds of Germany's Bundesliga showing no advantage for home sides in a closed-doors environment.

"We will not have the help from the crowd but no team will have that, so where is the advantage?" Klopp told the BBC.

"Whoever we play it is the same situation, which is why I'm not too worried about it."

The use of VAR could also be dispensed with for the rest of the season should the clubs wish to further cut the number of people required for games to go ahead.

However, the Premier League's CEO Richard Masters is keen for it to remain.

"VAR has its own social-distancing issues, but we think there is a way of completing the season with VAR," Masters told Sky Sports.