Rugby

Post-typhoon Japan-Scotland match gets green light

by Dan Orlowitz

Staff Writer

After postponing an early morning decision until 10:30 a.m., Rugby World Cup organizers on Sunday announced that a climactic Pool A clash between Japan and Scotland will take place as scheduled at International Stadium Yokohama.

The match had come under threat in the wake of Typhoon Hagibis as strong winds and heavy rains battered much of Kanagawa Prefecture. Had the match been canceled, the result would have been declared a 0-0 draw and Japan would have advanced to its first-ever quarterfinals — at Scotland’s expense.

Organizers are also said to have considered playing the match behind closed doors in the event that public transit was not able to handle the influx of fans, including thousands of Scotland supporters from overseas.

Earlier Sunday morning, organizers made the decision to cancel a match between Namibia and Canada in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, that was scheduled to take place later in the day as a result of landslides caused by the typhoon.

The match at Kamaishi Unosumai Memorial Stadium in northeastern Japan is the third match to be called off due to Typhoon Hagibis.

Saturday’s Pool B game between New Zealand and Italy, scheduled to be played in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture, and the Pool C match between England and France in Yokohama, were canceled earlier in the week.

As for other matches Sunday, a Pool C match between the United States and Tonga at Hanazono Rugby Stadium in Osaka Prefecture, and a Pool D match between Wales and Uruguay in Kumamoto will go ahead as scheduled, the organizers said.

Canada and Namibia were coming into their final Pool B match after suffering heavy defeats to New Zealand, South Africa and Italy.

“While we are disappointed, we understand the safety concerns surrounding the cancellation of our Rugby World Cup match against Namibia,” Rugby Canada said in a statement released on Sunday morning. “We respect the decision made by (organizers), but are disappointed to miss out on this opportunity to compete.”

While the match was canceled to ensure the safety of players, fans, volunteers and tournament officials, it came as a disappointment to locals, who had been looking forward to hosting World Cup matches as part of their reconstruction efforts from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.

The stadium, the only newly built venue at this tournament, stands on the grounds of two schools that were swept away by the tsunami. The disaster claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people in the city.

Kamaishi also staged a Sept. 25 game in which Uruguay defeated Fiji 30-27.

Information from Kyodo added

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