Wednesday 16 October 2019

Ireland still in contention to top group and avoid New Zealand in quarters as Japan v Scotland gets green light

Ireland boss Joe Schmidt
Ireland boss Joe Schmidt

Wayne O’Connor

Ireland remain in contention to top their Rugby World Cup pool and avoid a quarter final against New Zealand after organisers last night decided the final Group A game should not fall foul of Typhoon Hagibis.

It had been mooted that Japan’s encounter with Scotland would be cancelled today because of stormy weather. This would have proved disastrous for Ireland and Scotland because according to World Cup rules a cancelled fixture is recorded as a scoreless draw.

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A 0-0 draw would have secured two points each for Scotland and Japan, enough for the host nation to top the group and send the Scots home. Such a scenario would have relegated Ireland to second place, setting up a quarter final encounter against New Zealand on Saturday.

However, organisers gave Scotland’s fixture the go-ahead last night, meaning their final group game will not be among those to fall foul of the typhoon which saw this weekend’s England-France and New Zealand-Italy ties cancelled.

The typhoon caused massive disruption when it made landfall in Japan yesterday with strong winds and heavy downpours battering areas southwest of Tokyo. One man was killed after his car overturned. Dozens were injured in separate incidents. More than five million people have been advised to evacuate their homes and 1,600 flights were cancelled.

Scotland had considered mounting a legal challenge against World Rugby if they were knocked out of the tournament without the opportunity to fulfil the crucial fixture against Japan.

Senior Scotland officials had suggested the game could be played elsewhere in Japan or postponed by 24 hours.

Before the decision Scotland rugby union chief executive Mark Dodson insisted they would not be “collateral damage” for a decision taken “in haste”.

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“I think there’s alternative [venues] around Japan,” he added.

World Rugby seem to have paid heed to the Scottish concerns.

Ireland’s bonus point win against Samoa yesterday means Joe Schmidt’s side went top of the group, temporarily at least.

They will finish in top spot and face South Africa in the quarter final if Scotland win and Japan fail to secure two losing bonus points.

A win or a draw for Japan will be enough for the hosts to advance in top spot.

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