Hagibis casts a cloud‚ with suggestions of legal action at Rugby World Cup

Italy's Sergio Parisse has blasted the organisers of the Rugby World Cup.
Italy's Sergio Parisse has blasted the organisers of the Rugby World Cup.
Image: REUTERS/Peter Cziborra

Even before its arrival super typhoon Hagibis has cast a dark cloud over the Rugby World Cup (RWC).

With the matches involving England and France‚ as well as New Zealand and Italy‚ both scheduled for Yokohama on Saturday already called off in the interest of public safety‚ World Rugby and the organising committee’s actions‚ or inaction‚ are coming under closer scrutiny.

Sunday’s matches‚ on the final day of pool action‚ are also under threat and some reports suggest Scotland‚ who play hosts Japan‚ has raised the possibility of legal action against the game’s governing body should their match also fail to kick off.

Scotland need to win the game to have a chance of qualifying for the knockout stages. They believe World Rugby should have had contingencies in place including the rescheduling of matches in the pool stages.

Their threats‚ however‚ have raised the ire of Japan’s Kiwi coach Jamie Joseph.

“These reports have undermined the significance the match holds for Japan‚” said Joseph.

“We have won three Tests so far and put ourselves in the best position in the pool. I would like to remind everyone that this is not a fluke but is down to a lot of hard work by a number of people.

“All the talk of legal proceedings around something uncontrollable like a typhoon ignores how significant this match is for us‚” said Joseph.

“I would say it is the most significant in our history. We have never made the quarterfinals before and we have never beaten Scotland.

“We want to have the chance to achieve those firsts‚ but we know it will be difficult against a good‚ experienced team.”

Joseph then reminded of the toil it took to not just get Japan ranked inside the top 10 in the world but to be a force at their home RWC.

“We have worked very hard to get the team to where it is. This team has been in camp for the last 240 days.

“While the majority of the players are professionals with company-based teams‚ as a rugby team Japan is amateur. Other than $100 a day (a R1‚495 expense allowance)‚ no-one gets paid for being in camp. I will let you guys do the maths and make comparisons with other teams.

“Everyone in our camp‚ players and staff‚ want to play the match against Scotland. We all want to earn the right to be considered one of the elite teams in the world.

“It is important for us to wake up on Monday and understand we are a worthy top eight team or not good enough. My team is motivated by achieving something that is great‚ not avoiding an embarrassment.”

Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus‚ who is well west of Tokyo‚ and for the moment out of the path of the storm‚ will keep a close eye on proceedings. His team will play the winner of pool A and it may well be Japan should their match get cancelled.

Even if Ireland beat Samoa with a bonus point‚ the two points Japan will get from a cancelled match will see them top the pool by virtue of them beating the Irish.

“It won’t affect us now we are off on Sunday and then on Monday we move to Tokyo‚” Erasmus said about the typhoon.

“Tomorrow [Saturday] we’ve got a split training session that we can do indoors if the weather is too bad. For us it is not too bad.

“Obviously it will affect the opponents we will have in the quarterfinals. We are just as interested following it as everyone else.

“This is a first for me. I have never been part of something like this. It is interesting‚” a curious Erasmus said with a broad smile.

With quarterfinalists England‚ France‚ New Zealand and potentially Japan and Ireland having played just three pool matches the concern has been raised that they may go into the knockout stages a little undercooked.

Erasmus admitted he’s devoid of a definitive answer on the matter.

“Every team is different. The way New Zealand does it is different from Italy and England.

“It might suit some teams. We played all four our [pool] games‚ not with too many injuries. We are pretty much on track.

“I would be stupid to comment because for some teams it is beneficial but for others not.”

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