RWC 2019: Captain McInally left out of Scotland team to face hosts Japan

Press Association Sport 14:48 11/10/2019
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Gregor Townsend has dropped his captain Stuart McInally for Scotland’s typhoon-threatened clash with Japan after opting to start Fraser Brown at hooker.

McInally was given the armband ahead of the World Cup but has struggled to produce his best form so far.

Brown, who started at flanker last Wednesday as the Scots thrashed Russia 61-0, is among three players who start for the second time in four days, with wings Darcy Graham and Tommy Seymour also retained.

Greig Laidlaw will now lead out the team at the International Stadium while Sean Maitland, who scored a vital double against Samoa in the Scots’ first Pool A win, misses out with a groin injury.

The Scots need to beat the hosts to seal their place in the quarter-finals, but there remains serious concern the game will not go ahead as Super Typhoon Hagibis prepares to wreak havoc across Japan’s eastern coast this weekend.

A decision on whether the Dark Blues’ final Pool A game goes ahead will be made on the morning of the match.

Townsend said: “The opportunity to face the hosts in such a decisive Pool match will be a unique occasion and should be a great spectacle.

“Games of this magnitude don’t come around very often in a playing career so we will be giving it everything to make sure it is a memorable match.

“It’s taken a real squad effort from our players here in Japan to put us in a position to play for a place in the quarter-finals, having risen to the challenge of what’s effectively been knockout rugby since the second round of our Pool.

“The entire group has featured in our past two Tests, both of which have been clinical and professional performances.

“It was great to see players get the opportunity to play in this World Cup on Wednesday and it looked like they enjoyed the experience.

“The effort invested in defence, support play and clearing has been encouraging and has put a lot of pressure on the opposition.

“A few players have pushed hard for selection with the form they’ve shown in training and in the last two games, and it’s now down to this group of 23 men to build on this momentum and squad togetherness to deliver a winning performance against Japan.”

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RWC 19: Scotland facing another heartbreak as typhoon throws tournament into disarray

Press Association Sport 15:40 10/10/2019
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Scotland could face yet another World Cup heartbreak.

World Rugby has taken the unprecedented step of cancelling two World Cup matches due to extreme weather.

England’s clash with France and New Zealand’s showdown against Italy will not be played due to an incoming storm described by the Japanese Meteorological Agency as “violent”.

Here the PA news agency examines the questions surrounding the decision.

Why has World Rugby aborted the game?

The approach of Super Typhoon Hagibis left little alternative. The region’s most powerful cyclone of 2019 threatens to cause widespread devastation to the Kanto region which encompasses Tokyo and Yokohama. It is due to hit mainland Honshu – Japan’s biggest island – on Saturday and could persist into the following day before moving north. Typhoon Faxai, which was far smaller than Hagibis, brought public transport to a standstill long after it had passed when it struck at the start of the tournament.

Could the games have been moved?

The option of playing the matches in Oita, where two quarter-finals are being held, was explored until it became clear it was logistically impossible. World Rugby also declared that the risk to travelling teams, fans and volunteers is too great with Hagibis looming. Questions have been asked over the depth of contingency planning, but World Rugby says that by cancelling games it has acted in accordance with rules established pre-tournament.

But why did they stage the World Cup in typhoon season?

It is the only window available. Since 1999 it has been staged from September to November and due to congestion in the rugby calendar there is no other space for it. Taking the World Cup to Asia for the first time was a bold move and until Hagibis escalated into a category five super typhoon on Tuesday the tournament was a triumph, unique and different to anything before it. Japan is the third biggest rugby economy behind France and England and World Rugby deemed that braving stormy season was a risk worth taking. Now it is being forced to defend the decision, which it says it does not regret.

What happens now?

All teams in cancelled matches receive two points each. England and France had already qualified for the quarter-finals but the demise of the Pool C decider has denied France the platform to advance as group winners, distorting the integrity of the tournament. Italy could have progressed had they beaten New Zealand, but it would have taken an upset of staggering proportions for the All Blacks to be knocked out. Instead, the real repercussions are being felt by Scotland in Pool A.

More World Cup heartache for Scotland?

Four years after they were dumped out in the quarter-finals by a dubious refereeing decision, Scotland could now lose out to an extreme weather event. If their game at International Stadium Yokohama on Sunday is called off, the automatic two points awarded to Scotland and Japan will see the hosts progress. Unsurprisingly, the Scottish Rugby Union is demanding the game be played under a contingency plan.

Who has lost the most?

Fans, teams, World Rugby, Japan – everyone has paid some form of price. Tournament revenues are insured against cancellations but there is the reputational damage to World Rugby. England and France fans are beginning to pour into Tokyo so spare a thought for them, even if they will have their tickets refunded.

Some teams will enter the quarter-finals without having played for two weeks, others will have been robbed of their do-or-die assault on the knockout phase. But the highest price of all may be paid by Japan, which is in the crosshairs of a cyclone that could cause billions of pounds worth of damage and put lives at risk.

Can the World Cup recover?

Undoubtedly. It has been a superb tournament so far, producing some classic matches. New Zealand and South Africa fought out a group game worthy of a final while Japan’s upset of Ireland will never be forgotten. The host nation has offered a fascinating break from the traditional rugby circuit and an enthralling knockout phase could yet see it emerge as one of the great World Cups.

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Rugby World Cup: Watch 'disappointed' Eddie Jones discuss England v France cancellation

Sport360 staff 15:17 10/10/2019
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Reaction from England’s head coach Eddie Jones after two Rugby World Cup games including the Pool C decider between England and France have been canceled because of the anticipated impact of Typhoon Hagibis and tournament organizers aren’t ruling out further cancellations.

Japan’s weather agency is warning the powerful typhoon may bring torrential rain and strong winds to central parts of the country between Saturday and Sunday, during the last round of World Cup group games.

The England vs. France game at Yokohama near Tokyo and the Pool B game between New Zealand and Italy in the city of Toyota on Saturday have been canceled on safety grounds.

It’s the first time that games have been canceled at rugby’s showpiece tournament. All games cancelled because of weather are logged as scoreless draws and each team will get two competition points.


The Japan Meteorological Agency urged people to take precautions to avoid potentially life-threatening danger. Airlines and train services anticipate cancellations.









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