The tunnel in the 70,000 capacity Yokohama Stadium was reduced to something more resembling a swimming pool as rugby players attempted to train amid devastating Typhoon Hagibis which threatens havoc in the World Cup schedule.
Hagibis is being heralded as the strongest storm to make landfall in Japan since 1958’s Typhoon Ida which claimed 1,269 lives.
Hagibis has begun pelting the country with rain and high winds, which has already resulted in the death of one person with a further 60 injuries being reported.
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The storm is also causing chaos on what is a massive weekend for sport in Japan, with the Japanese Grand Prix and several pivotal matches in the Rugby World Cup in danger of cancelation.
With more than a meter of rain expected to hit Tokyo in a 24-hour period between Saturday and Sunday, World Rugby are braced to potentially cancel a hugely important fixture between the host nation and Scotland which, in effect, would eliminate the the Scottish team from the tournament.
However, it appears that rugby’s governing body may have no choice judging by footage which emerged from the Japan team’s training session in the Yokohama Stadium on Saturday.
A video posted by an official Japanese Rugby account showed footage from inside the stadium as players exited the dressing room and were forced to wade through two-feet deep puddles of rainwater in order to access the pitch, with water appearing dangerously close to various electrical outlets. Some even jokingly limbered up as if preparing to swim through the water hazard.
— 日本ラグビーフットボール協会 (@JRFUMedia) October 12, 2019
A late decision is to be made by World Rugby as to whether Sunday’s game will go ahead, but the omens aren’t good as an official release from the sport’s governing body implied that conditions were too adverse for them to even be surveyed at this point.
“Our primary consideration is the safety of everyone,” they said in a statement. “We will undertake detailed venue inspections as soon as practically possible with an announcement following as soon as decisions are made in the morning.
“Our message to fans continues be stay indoors today, stay safe and monitor official Rugby World Cup social and digital channels.“
— Jack Phan (@JackPhan) October 12, 2019
— Yuvraj Vasava (@08Yuvi) October 12, 2019
Should Scotland’s game be called off, tournament guidelines mandate that the match be declared a 0-0 tie. Two points would be awarded to each team, which would place Japan into the quarter-finals as group winners and send Scotland home. The typhoon has already caused the cancelation of games involving New Zealand and England in recent days.
However, Scotland Rugby has responded forcefully to their potentially enforced exit by threatening legal action against tournament organizers, with Mark Dodson saying that there is no reason that the game cannot be played on Monday instead of Sunday.
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“We don’t want to get in some sort of legal arm wrestle with World Rugby, but our view is it doesn’t sit right with us, we don’t feel it’s just, we feel there’s other ways,” the chief executive said.
“I think most people feel that if it had been an economic powerhouses – let’s say New Zealand – perhaps more thought would have been given to a flexible approach.
“I think in the court of public opinion, we’ve already won. Right from the get go, we said we will play any place, anywhere, behind closed doors, in full stadiums. We will travel the length and breadth of Japan.”
A final decision on whether the match will go ahead will be made at 11:45pm BST on Saturday.