October 9, 2019 2:20:25 PM
Scotland will discover on Thursday whether they will be controversially blown out of the World Cup by Typhoon Hagibis.
The Scots’ crucial final Pool A clash in Yokohama on Sunday has been cast into serious doubt by predictions of an “explosive” super storm arcing towards the Tokyo region.
World Rugby have called a press conference for 4am BST where they are expected to set out their contingency plans for both the Scotland-Japan match up and Saturday’s showdown between England and France, which is also being staged at the International Stadium.
The options open to the tournament organisers are to either find an alternative venue or cancel the game and declare it a draw.
But reports in France claim a decision has already been made to call off both games amid concerns over asking teams and fans to travel during a storm producing hurricane-force winds.
If true, that would end Scotland’s tournament in a manner certain to cause an outcry from the Dark Blues support.
Gregor Townsend’s men currently have nine points from three games and still need to beat the hosts – who sit on 14 points – to secure their place in the knock-out rounds.
Hagibis has escalated from a tropical storm into a Category 5 super typhoon with winds reaching 180mph. Experts says it has undergone the most dramatic intensification of any tropical cyclone since records began.
The storm is many times the dimensions of Typhoon Faxai, which brought Tokyo to a standstill last month, left three dead and a million homes without power.
Now Townsend is waiting to hear what move the tournament organisers will take.
Scotland’s head coach, speaking after his side’s 61-0 thrashing of Russia in Shizuoka and before World Rugby confirmed Thursday’s press conference, said: “I checked the weather app this morning, about eight hours ago, and it did look like it was heading into Tokyo this weekend, unless it has changed since then.
“It is a few days away and it could miss the Tokyo area, or it could still go there and obviously we’ll be getting updates from World Rugby in the next two days as to what the contingencies are.
“We’ve had contact to say there will be an update over the next 24 to 48 hours, so I’m sure that alternative venues and arrangements are being looked at not just for our game but the other games that could be affected by it, England and France play in the same stadium the night before.
“I know it was getting looked at for the Ireland game as well when the forecast was that it was going to Fukuoka.”
Townsend remains in limbo for now but he was delighted to see his team run in nine tries against the Russians to secure the bonus point which could yet prove vital to their bid for the last eight if a way is found to play Sunday’s game.
George Horne became the first Scottish scrum-half to score a Test hat-trick with his treble. The impressive Adam Hastings grabbed a double while George Turner, Tommy Seymour, John Barclay and Stuart McInally also crossed as Scotland secured their first back-to-back clean sheets for 55 years.
Townsend said: “Credit to the players for that, to keep going hard in defence. In the last two games our forwards have delivered in a number of areas, especially around the set-piece.
“Straight away we put them under pressure and our maul got better. We forced mistakes at their lineout so that was good to see.
“George Horne and Adam Hastings both played with real confidence and speed. They were very busy. Adam had a real balance to his game and put some excellent attacking kicks in during the first half.
“It was a good game for them. They looked confident and fit and obviously they scored a few tries.
“It is important that we recover well tomorrow then do what we can over the next few days to be in the best condition possible to play our best rugby on Sunday.”