Rugby World Cup 2019: Scotland threaten legal action if Japan game cancelled

Scottish Rugby officials are preparing for a court battle, notifying the game's governing body they will take legal action, if their must-win match against Japan is cancelled. 

Scotland must beat Japan and deny the hosts a losing bonus point in their final tournament game in Yokohama on Saturday to have a chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals. 

As it stands, the game is currently in doubt, as Super Typhoon Hagibis prepares to wreak havoc across Japan's eastern coast.

Under tournament rules, if a pool game can't be played, the match would be cancelled, and declared a 0-0 draw, meaning Japan would advance to the last eight, with Scotland missing out.

World Rugby has already cancelled England's match against France in Yokohama and New Zealand's clash with Italy in Toyota - the first time matches have been cancelled in tournament history.

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend insists there is an allowance for 'force majeure' (measures in the rules), which includes a "storm or tempest" in the participation agreement signed by competing teams over matches that cannot be played. 

On Thursday, Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson and chief operating officer Dominic McKay were involved in heated discussions with World Rugby to ensure the game goes ahead. 

"We're willing to do whatever it takes to get this game [between Scotland and Japan] on," a Scottish Rugby spokesman told The Telegraph. "There are 10,000 Scotland supporters here to see their team play, and for the integrity of the sport and this tournament, we've got to find a way to deliver on our undertaking to stage this game.

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"World Rugby said, three or four months ago, that they had contingency plans in place to address any problems or challenges that might occur, and we took them at their word. We now expect them to deploy those contingency plans and ensure this match goes ahead.

"The fans, players and everyone who loves rugby will demand nothing less. The whole situation is almost beyond belief."

Scotland are willing to play the match on Monday if necessary. The All Blacks were reportedly given the option to play Italy on the same day, but declined. 

A decision on whether the match goes ahead will be made on Sunday, just six hours before kick-off.

"Every effort is being made to ensure Sunday's matches will be played as scheduled," World Rugby said in a statement. 

"A thorough assessment of venues will take place after the typhoon has passed, before a final decision is made on Sunday morning."

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The ninth Rugby World Cup kicks off on September 20 in Japan - the first time it has been hosted in Asia.

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