Rugby World Cup organizers filed misconduct charges against Scotland on Tuesday over comments made about Typhoon Hagibis, after the Scots threatened legal action if their final pool game was canceled because of the deadly storm.
Organizers said they had “issued misconduct charges against the Scottish Rugby Union in relation to recent comments made about Typhoon Hagibis and its potential impact” on Scotland’s match against Japan.
Scotland faced elimination if Sunday’s Pool A game was canceled, as happened to three other matches over the weekend as the typhoon struck.
Japan defeated the Scots 28-21, sending them out of the competition.
Tournament director Alan Gilpin told reporters on Tuesday that “under our tournament rules, we are very careful that people behave appropriately.”
“As a result of that, we’ve referred to an independent disputes committee the behavior and comments of the Scottish Rugby Union,” said Gilpin.
Hagibis slammed into Japan on Saturday night, unleashing fierce winds and unprecedented rainfall that triggered landslides and flooding, killing nearly 70 people.
As the typhoon approached, raising doubts about the pool match on Sunday, Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson said it was considering legal action if the game did not go ahead.
Scotland would not become “collateral damage” of the typhoon, said Dodson, adding that fans were “absolutely astounded at this rigidity from World Rugby.”
Scotland was desperate for the game to be played because it would have been eliminated if it was canceled and counted as a 0-0 draw.
In the end, Japan’s victory saw it qualify at the top of the pool, while Scotland failed to reach the quarterfinals for only the second time in its history.
World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper slammed the Scottish comments as “unhelpful and disappointing” and stressed organizers were not influenced by any discussions with member unions.
“We made a call based on the volume of what was in front of us. We were ready for typhoons. There is nothing exceptional about typhoons in this country. But this was an exceptional typhoon that we haven’t had the likes of since the fifties,” said Gosper.
“Please understand, this was an exceptional event that was thrown at this tournament and the tournament has handled it brilliantly. We knew this was coming but not on that scale,” he said.
As Hagibis approached, organizers were forced into the unprecedented step of cancelling two matches — Italy vs. New Zealand and England vs. France.
And as the full extent of the devastation became clear, they also scrapped Namibia vs. Canada in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, a town nearly wiped off the map in the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.
“Ultimately we believed at the time and we know now we made the right decision” to scrap the games,” Gilpin said.
Despite the disappointment of the cancellations — and clear financial costs — World Rugby chief Bill Beaumont was adamant there would be no concerns about holding a second World Cup in Japan, one of the world’s most natural disaster-prone countries.
“No hesitation at all in coming back to Japan for a Rugby World Cup. None whatsoever,” stressed Beaumont, as he paid tribute to staff and volunteers for getting the game played in Yokohama only 24 hours after the typhoon slammed into the city.
“In many ways, Japan’s victory over Scotland was a victory for the people of Japan and rugby. It reflected the wonderful human warmth and spirit and family that has characterized this very special Rugby World Cup,” Beaumont said.