Scots won’t be World Cup ‘collateral damage’ vows SRU chief

Scotland players celebrate their victory over Samoa, in the Rugby World Cup, at the Kobe Misaki Stadium, in Kobe, Japan. (Reuters)
Updated 11 October 2019

Scots won’t be World Cup ‘collateral damage’ vows SRU chief

  • World Cup organizers have already taken the unprecedented decision to axe Saturday’s matches between England and France and New Zealand and Italy with Typhoon Hagibis poised to hit Japan
  • Scotland’s Pool A match against Japan in Yokohama on Sunday is also under threat from the extreme weather, with a decision on whether it goes ahead set to be taken on the morning of the game

TOKYO: Scotland’s rugby chief insisted he won’t allow his side to become “collateral damage” at the Rugby World Cup as he fights off moves to cancel Sunday’s decisive pool clash with Japan over an incoming typhoon.
World Cup organizers have already taken the unprecedented decision to axe Saturday’s matches between England and France and New Zealand and Italy with Typhoon Hagibis poised to hit Japan’s east coast.
Scotland’s Pool A match against Japan in Yokohama on Sunday is also under threat from the extreme weather, with a decision on whether it goes ahead set to be taken on the morning of the game.
Assuming Ireland manage at least a losing bonus in their final pool match against Samoa on Saturday, the Scots will need a victory over Japan to have a chance of reaching the last eight.
But if their game is called off and, under tournament regulations, declared a 0-0 draw, the two points Scotland will then receive won’t stop them being eliminated.
“My view is that we’re not going to let Scotland be the collateral damage for a decision that was taken in haste,” SRU chief executive Mark Dodson told BBC Radio Four’s Today program on Friday.
“I think there’s alternative (venues) around Japan.”
World Rugby has insisted the only two options are playing the Scotland-Japan match as scheduled, or cancelation.
But Scotland dispute this interpretation of the rulebook, arguing a ‘force majeure’ clause allows for weather-affected pool games to be rescheduled, as can happen in the knockout phase.
Dodson said that while the question of whether the match took place on Sunday was now a “purely meteorological issue,” and public safety was the priority, canceling the fixture would wreck the “sporting integrity” of the tournament.
“World Rugby seem to be determined to stick to its plan that the match is either played on Sunday or indeed it is canceled, and to have it canceled and have our ability to progress from this group put at peril, we believe is absolutely unacceptable,” added Dodson, who warned legal action remained a possibility.
“World Rugby is pointing us back to the participation agreement. We’ve had legal opinion — from a leading QC (senior lawyer) — that challenges World Rugby’s interpretation.
“We don’t know that (it’s too late) — we have to challenge it. This is about the game and rugby supporters across the world are absolutely astounded at this rigidity from World Rugby.”
“The common-sense approach to this is to play the game 24 hours later in perfect safety where we can make sure that the pool stages are completed,” he added.
Meanwhile, Scotland coach Gregor Townsend dropped captain Stuart McInally to the bench and installed experienced scrum-half Greig Laidlaw as skipper when he named his team on Friday.
Fraser Brown starts at hooker instead of McInally, yet to find his best form in Japan.
Brown, who started at flanker in Wednesday’s 61-0 hammering of Russia, is one of three Dark Blues players who will be kicking off for the second time in four days together with wings Tommy Seymour and Darcy Graham.
Scotland, who started this World Cup with a woeful 27-3 loss to Ireland, are up against a Japan side who’ve won all three of their group games so far.
“The opportunity to face the hosts in such a decisive pool match will be a unique occasion and should be a great spectacle,” said Townsend.
“Games of this magnitude don’t come around very often in a playing career so we will be giving it everything to make sure it is a memorable match,” he added.

Scotland (15-1)
Stuart Hogg; Tommy Seymour, Chris Harris, Sam Johnson, Darcy Graham; Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw (capt); Blade Thomson, Jamie Ritchie, Magnus Bradbury; Jonny Gray, Grant Gilchrist; Willem Nel, Fraser Brown, Allan Dell
Replacements: Stuart McInally, Gordon Reid, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings, Ryan Wilson, George Horne, Pete Horne, Blair Kinghorn


Saudi Professional League broadcasts live on Twitter

Updated 12 November 2019

Saudi Professional League broadcasts live on Twitter

  • Video watching of the league’s events and news has generated more than 115 million views

RIYADH: Saudi sports channels, exclusive carriers of the Saudi Professional League 2019/2020, have started broadcasting all league matches on Twitter.

The broadcast via the Twitter platform (@riyadiyatv) will be free and include studio analysis for each match and other relevant information to give viewers the chance to follow the games, including on their smartphones.

The move between the Saudi sports channels and Twitter offers fans the chance to watch Saudi league matches and pursue their passion for sport through mobile applications and smart programs on social media platforms.

The growing public interest in the Saudi Professional League is clear. Video watching of the league’s events and news has generated more than 115 million views and recorded more than 360 million hits on the accounts of Saudi sports channels on Twitter during the first two months of the league.

Sports content is one of the most popular items on Twitter, as evidenced by several surveys about the Kingdom conducted by Toluna, which specializes in consumer insight surveys and analysis.

The most-watched videos on football include highlights of the matches (88 percent), commentary and technical analysis (43 percent). The study also found that (72 percent) of Twitter users in the Kingdom consider the platform one of the main sources of access to online video content.

Twitter will create customized pages in Arabic and English for watching the main matches of the league. Live events will be transmitted directly to sports fans through videos and “Moments,” a collection of tweets, by accessing the page through the “explore” section or at the top of the timeline or by using the “search” feature. Twitter created the first page dedicated to watching the Al-Hilal-Al Nasr derby, held last Sunday at the King Saud University stadium.

Zeinab Abu Alsamh, CEO of commercial and marketing affairs at the Saudi Broadcasting Authority, said that Saudi Arabia was one of the leading countries using the Twitter platform. 

“This important step with the global Twitter platform in broadcasting the matches of the Saudi league will make us reach a wide segment of our followers everywhere in the world, in order to ensure the access of media content to all spectrums of viewers through the widespread Twitter platform,” she said.

Kinda Ibrahim, Twitter director of media partnerships for the Middle East and North Africa, said: “We are delighted to be broadcasting the Saudi Professional League on our platform as we are always striving to bring new and exciting experiences to football fans on Twitter. The Saudi Professional League has a huge following inside and outside the Kingdom, and we seek through a live broadcast to enrich the experience of Saudi football fans.”

Commercial brands will be able to link their products and services to the Saudi Professional League’s premium content and communicate with the public through the Saudi Alwasail media company. Videos of the most important moments of the league will be posted on the Saudi sports channels accounts in promotional tweets, in cooperation with sponsoring brands. These tweets contain brand ads, which automatically appear before videos from Saudi sports channels.

The Saudi Professional League began on Aug. 22 and will continue until May 2020.