Rugby World Cup organisers said Tuesday they would refer Scotland’s “disappointing” comments about Typhoon Hagibis to a disputes body, after the Scots threatened legal action if their final pool game was cancelled.
Tournament director Alan Gilpin announced the move to reporters, saying 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 behaviour and comments of the Scottish Rugby Union,” said Gilpin, adding that it would be “inappropriate” to comment further.
As the typhoon approached, raising doubts about the key Japan v Scotland pool match on Sunday, Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson said they were considering legal action if the game did not go ahead.
Scotland would not become “collateral damage” of the typhoon — which has now killed near to 70 people — said Dodson, adding that fans were “absolutely astounded at this rigidity from World Rugby”.
Scotland were desperate for the game to be played because they would have been eliminated if it were cancelled and counted as a 0-0 draw.
In the end, the match was played and Japan pulled off a famous 28-21 victory which put them through at the head of the pool, and sent Scotland home.
World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper slammed some of the comments as “unhelpful and disappointing” and stressed organisers 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.
Gilpin added: “Ultimately we believed at the time and we know now we made the right decision.”
– ‘Changed the face’ –
As Hagibis approached, organisers were forced into the unprecedented step of cancelling two matches — Italy v New Zealand and England v France.
And as the full extent of the devastation became clear, they also scrapped Namibia v Canada in Kamaishi, a town nearly wiped off the map in the 2011 tsunami.
Despite the disappointment of the cancellations — and clear financial costs — World Rugby chief Bill Beaumont was adamant that 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 characterised this very special Rugby World Cup,” Beaumont said.
He said the “very proud” Japan team had been desperate to play, to prove they deserve a place at the top table of the global game — the so-called Tier One nations.
“What we are trying to do is look at all our tournaments, all our competitions so we can get more Tier-One fixtures for Japan,” said the World Rugby boss.
He said any established rugby country would want Japan to visit as they would be sure to attract a good crowd due to their recent success and their “incredible” style of play, which “relies on pace and precision”.
“I certainly think for a lot of really established unions, they have almost changed the face of how rugby should be played,” said the former England captain.
Oct 15, 2019