Gregor Townsend fears Scotland may be forced to find an alternative venue for Sunday’s make-or-break World Cup showdown with Japan as Typhoon Hagibis prepares to batter Yokohama.
The Scots, who thrashed Russia 61-0 in Shizuoka on Wednesday, are due to take on the hosts at the International Stadium but predictions of an “explosive” super storm arcing towards the Tokyo region have thrown the game into doubt.
World Rugby is set to make an announcement on Thursday outlining its contingency plans, with switching the game to another stadium among the possibilities.
The Telegraph is reporting, however, that as Super Typhoon Hagibis heads straight towards landfall in Tokyo on Saturday, Rugby World Cup will take the unprecedented step of re-locating England’s final Pool C game against France in Yokohama on Saturday to Oita 600 miles to the south on Kyushu.
Hagibis has escalated from a tropical storm into a Category 5 super typhoon with winds reaching 180mph. Experts says it has undergone one of the most dramatic intensifications of any tropical cyclone since records began.
The storm is many times the dimensions of Typhoon Faxai, which brought Tokyo to a standstill last month, left three dead and a million homes without power.
Now Townsend – whose side must beat Japan to claim a place in the quarter-finals – is waiting to hear what move the tournament organisers will take.
“I checked the weather app (on Wednesday morning), about eight hours ago, and it did look like it was heading into Tokyo this weekend, unless it has changed since then,” the Dark Blues head coach said after his side’s rout of Russia.
“It is a few days away and it could miss the Tokyo area, or it could still go there and obviously we’ll be getting updates from World Rugby in the next two days as to what the contingencies are.
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“We’ve had contact to say there will be an update over the next 24 to 48 hours, so I’m sure that alternative venues and arrangements are being looked at not just for our game but the other games that could be affected by it. England and France play in the same stadium the night before.
“I know it was getting looked at for the Ireland game as well when the forecast was that it was going to Fukuoka.”
The Scots have just four days to prepare for their Brave Blossoms showdown and a change of venue would throw those plans into chaos.
But Townsend was delighted to see his team run in nine tries against the Russians to secure the bonus point which puts them in control of their own destiny.
George Horne became the first Scottish scrum-half to score a Test hat-trick, Adam Hastings grabbed a double while George Turner, Tommy Seymour, John Barclay and Stuart McInally also crossed and Scotland secured their first back-to-back clean sheets for 55 years.
Townsend, whose side lost their opener to Ireland before kick-starting their campaign with a 34-0 win over Samoa, said: “Credit to the players for that, to keep going hard in defence. In the last two games our forwards have delivered in a number of areas, especially around the set-piece.
“Russia had an excellent scrum and maul and are very physical, but I thought our scrum was excellent. Straight away we put them under pressure and our maul got better. We forced mistakes at their lineout so that was good to see.
“You look at getting the bonus point, first of all. If we hadn’t got that then Sunday would have been even more difficult.
“The four-day turnaround was always in the schedule. We have thought about selection and how we manage the load of our players. We have thought about how we best approach the next few days.
“It is a challenge and we know Japan have had a good rest going into the game – they have had good rests for all their games – but we’ve known that would be the case.”
The only negative from the victory was the thumb injury picked up by Duncan Taylor, who will be assessed over the coming days.
“We’ll get an update in Duncan Taylor, who is our only concern,” Townsend added. “He’s got a thumb injury, so he’s getting an X-ray now. He may require other imaging as well if the X-ray doesn’t give us the full details. But he’s the only one we’ve got concerns about.
“It is important that we recover well (on Thursday), then do what we can over the next few days to be in the best condition possible to play our best rugby on Sunday.”