England coach Eddie Jones insists Scotland will have only themselves to blame if they are knocked out of the Rugby World Cup, as Typhoon Hagibis threatens the Scots’ game against Japan.
Jones, who spent many years in Japan as coach of their national team, said the situation should not have come as a surprise to the Scots, who could see themselves exiting the competition if their match on Sunday is cancelled.
“We’ve been talking about it all the time, about the possibility that this was going to happen… It’s typhoon season here and you’ve got to be prepared for it,” the Australian told reporters.
“We had an idea it could happen and therefore you have to accumulate points in your games to put yourself in the right position in case that happened,” added Jones, whose England team won all three matches to top Pool C.
Tournament organisers took the unprecedented step at a Rugby World Cup to cancel Saturday’s matches between England and France and New Zealand and Italy on safety grounds, with the powerful Hagibis set to strike Tokyo.
“This is supposed to be a big typhoon, so I don’t see any other option that the organisers had,” said Jones.
Scotland find themselves in a precarious situation after losing their opener 27-3 to Ireland.
Unless Ireland fail to register a point in their match against Samoa on Saturday, the Scots will need to beat hosts Japan in Yokohama on Sunday to reach the quarter-finals.
But if their fixture is scratched due to the typhoon, two points from a draw will send them home barring a Samoa shock on Saturday.
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen said: “If you want to be really ruthless, then it’s all about making sure you win the games on the way through because everyone knew this could be a possibility.”
Scotland’s toughest pool game, however, was probably their opener against Ireland and some critics argue the order of their fixtures should not have a bearing on quarter-final qualification.
A final decision on whether the Japan-Scotland match in Yokohama goes ahead is set to be delayed until the morning of the game.
Scottish Rugby issued a strongly-worded statement Thursday saying it “fully expects contingency plans to be put in place to enable Scotland to contest for a place in the quarter-finals on the pitch”.
But World Cup tournament director Alan Gilpin said organisers had to abide by the same rules that had led them to cancel Italy’s game insisting “we won’t treat that (Japan-Scotland) match any differently”.
Scottish officials, however, are now reportedly considering legal action to ensure the game goes ahead.
They dispute World Rugby’s interpretation of their own rules, arguing tournament organisers can overlook regulations in order that matches be played, which the Scots maintain is the overriding imperative.
Scotland are also relying on a ‘force majeure’ clause in the tournament participation agreement which includes a reference to “storm or tempest”.
This would appear to cover Typhoon Hagibis, with Scotland coach Gregor Townsend saying: “I’ve since been told there is a force majeure (provision) and things can change because of exceptional circumstances.”