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.”


Sterling, Mbappe light up Champions League with hat-tricks while Spurs claim key win

Updated 23 October 2019

Sterling, Mbappe light up Champions League with hat-tricks while Spurs claim key win

  • Compared to Sterling, Mbappe took a sluggish 22 minutes to score his three goals

PARIS: Raheem Sterling and Kylian Mbappe both scored second-half hat-tricks in UEFA Champions League action on Tuesday as Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Tottenham Hotspur all recorded big victories.
Juventus, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich labored to wins on a night which brought 30 goals in eight games, a third of which were scored by Premier League clubs.
Sterling’s three goals came 11 minutes apart in the second half as Pep Guardiola’s City thumped Atalanta 5-1 at the Etihad Stadium to maintain their perfect record in Group C.
The Italians had earlier taken the lead from Ruslan Malinovskyi’s 28th-minute penalty, but they were soon overrun and remain without a point in their debut Champions League campaign.
Sergio Aguero equalized from a Sterling assist and the Argentine scored a penalty to put City ahead before the break. Sterling then took over, although City finished with 10 men as Phil Foden was sent off late on.
“I should have had four. Riyad Mahrez put me through and I was looking to put one on a plate for him. But I went through and should have finished it,” Sterling admitted to BT Sport.
City’s will seal a place in the last 16 if they win away to Atalanta next, as nearest rivals Shakhtar Donetsk and Dinamo Zagreb played out a 2-2 draw in Ukraine earlier.
Yevhen Konoplyanka and Brazilian substitute Dodo netted for Shakhtar, with Dinamo’s goals coming in between from Dani Olmo and a Mislav Orsic penalty.
Compared to Sterling, Mbappe took a sluggish 22 minutes to score his three goals in PSG’s 5-0 romp away to former European Cup runners-up Club Brugge in Belgium in Group A.
Mauro Icardi scored twice for the French champions, who were without the injured Neymar but had Angel Di Maria in exceptional form — the Argentine set up four goals.
According to sports statisticians Opta, the last player to come off the bench and score a hat-trick in the Champions League was Spaniard Joseba Llorente for Villarreal in 2008.
“I wanted to start and I thought I was going to start, but the coach made his choice and I had to accept it. I also wanted to show that it’s difficult to get by without me,” Mbappe told French broadcaster RMC Sport.
PSG have a maximum nine points, are yet to concede a goal in Europe this season and will be through to the last 16 with a win at home to Club next month.
Below them, Real Madrid are up to second after claiming their first win in Europe this season. Eden Hazard set up Toni Kroos for a first-half strike that handed them a 1-0 victory over Galatasaray in Istanbul.
Meanwhile, there was a welcome win for Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham, who crushed Red Star Belgrade 5-0 in north London, three weeks on from their 7-2 humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich at the same venue.
Captain Harry Kane scored twice for Spurs either side of a Son Heung-min brace and an Erik Lamela goal as they moved up to second place in Group B on four points.
“We know we have had a tough run of results and that was the perfect way to respond,” said Kane.
They remain five points behind group leaders Bayern Munich, for whom Robert Lewandowski bagged two in a 3-2 win at Olympiakos that maintained their perfect record.
The Pole has 18 goals this season and 58 career Champions League goals — only Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Raul and Karim Benzema have more.
Youssef El Arabi gave Olympiakos the lead, but Lewandowski’s brace either side of half-time changed the game and Corentin Tolisso fired in a magnificent third before Guilherme pulled one back.
In Turin, Juventus needed a late Paulo Dybala pair to come from behind and beat Lokomotiv Moscow 2-1 in Group D.
Aleksei Miranchuk gave the Russians the lead on the half-hour and it took a stunning strike by Dybala to bring the Italian champions back level with 13 minutes left.
Moments later the same player scored from the follow-up after Alex Sandro’s shot was saved.
Juve are level atop Group D on seven points with Atletico Madrid, who edged out Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 thanks to Alvaro Morata’s 78th-minute header.