Joseph slams Scotland as typhoon starts war of words
Scots say they will take legal action, Japan coach says they want to play just as much
Japan’s head coach Jamie Joseph has hit out at Scotland for threatening legal action over the potential concellation of their Rugby World Cup Pool A meeting on Sunday. Photo: Odd Andersen/Getty Images
Pool A: Japan v Scotland
Kick-off: 7.45pm local time (11.45am Irish time), Sunday. Venue: Yokohama. How to follow: The Irish Times liveblog will begin at 11.15am. On TV: Live on Eir Sport.
The 2019 Rugby World Cup (as it currently stands) is littered with man made mistakes – blatantly poor refereeing influencing results and terrible pitch surfaces – spinning into natural disaster that the people in charge can offer no solution to despite 10 years assuring all and sundry that typhoons could be handled with now shelved contingency plans. Whether Scotland’s make-or-break clash with Japan will go ahead on Sunday morning will not be decided until, at the latest, six hours before the scheduled kick-off time.
“My view is that we’re not going to let Scotland be the collateral damage for a decision that was taken in haste,” said Scotland rugby union chief executive Mark Dodson.
“I think there’s alternative (venues) around Japan. The point to me, we are talking about now is not whether the game will take place on Sunday, that will be a purely meteorological issue. The issue will be if it can’t take place then we’re really, really pressing the point that we need to have to get this game delayed 24 hours later.”
When asked about moving this fixture to another city or pushing the game to Monday, tournament director Alan Gilpin stated it was “unfeasible on logistical and safety grounds.”
The closed stadium option also appears to have been dismissed as Scottish rugby union lawyers are gearing up to fight World Rugby in the event of postponement.
So, here follows a preview of a game that may never come to pass.
Scotland are understandably livid. Their plans for the biggest match they hope to play since an incorrect decision by South African referee Craig Joubert saw them lose the quarter-final to Australia in 2015 have been throw into total disarray.
Gregor Townsend, it must be noted, did himself no favours earlier this week when essentially stating Ireland could suck on a 0-0 draw and two points when Typhoon Hagibis was spinning towards Fukuoka and the Samoa match was under threat. Since then the Scotland coach has adopted a conciliatory tone but imagine how Joe Schmidt or Steve Hansen or Michael Cheika or Eddie Jones or Rassie Erasmus would be shaping the narrative if World Rugby were hinting at impose a cancellation on their teams?
“I have looked at the weather and Sunday night is meant to be nice and calm,” said Townsend. “I hope everyone involved in the tournament wants the game to be played and will do their utmost for the game to be played.”
Scotland are even getting hammered by Japan coach Jamie Joseph.
“The key difference here between us and Scotland is that we are driven and supported by the whole country,” said Joseph. “My team is motivated by achieving something that is great, and not [by] avoiding an embarrassment.
“Everyone in our squad wants to play. We’ve all earned the right to be considered one of the elite teams in the world. It’s important for us to wake up on Monday morning and understand we’re a worthy top eight team.”
Like New Zealand, England and France, Joseph will take a quarter-final spot any which way it comes. There is plenty of evidence to suggest Japan would earn it on the field but, equally so, Scotland have been superb since losing to Ireland as their bonus point victories over Samoa and Russia came with surgical precision.
“All the media reports in the last few days are about an uncontrollable thing like the typhoon and [the coverage] has really lost its way,” Joseph added. “The reports I have read are about legal proceedings, but what I’m saying is it’s a huge test match for our team and I feel that we have the most to lose as we are in the best position to top the pool.”
Nobody is having that. Scotland go home if this game cannot be played.
At a tournament that heretofore had been running like clockwork, professional rugby has never known such calamity.
Japan: William Tupou; Kotaro Matsushima, Timothy Lafaele, Ryoto Nakamura; Kenki Fukuoka; Yu Tamura, Yutaka Nagare; Keita Inagaki, Shota Horie, Jiwon Koo; Luke Thompson, James Moore; Michael Leitch (captain), Pieter Labuschagne, Kazuki Himeno.
Replacements: Atsushi Sakate, Isileli Nakajima, Asaeli Ai Valu, Uwe Helu, Hendrik Tui, Fumiaki Tanaka, Rikiya Matsuda, Ryohei Yamanaka.
Scotland: Stuart Hogg; Tommy Seymour, Chris Harris, Sam Johnson, Darcy Graham; Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw (captain); Allan Dell, Fraser Brown, Willem Nell; Grant Gilchrist, Jonny Gray; Magnus Bradbury, Jamie Ritchie, Blade Thompson.
Replacements: Stuart McInally, Gordon Reid, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings, Ryan Wilson, George Horne, Peter Horne, Blair Kinghorn.
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand).