Scots won’t be World Cup ‘collateral damage’ vows SRU chief

Scotland players celebrate their victory over Samoa, in the Rugby World Cup, at the Kobe Misaki Stadium, in Kobe, Japan. (Reuters)
Updated 11 October 2019

Scots won’t be World Cup ‘collateral damage’ vows SRU chief

  • World Cup organizers have already taken the unprecedented decision to axe Saturday’s matches between England and France and New Zealand and Italy with Typhoon Hagibis poised to hit Japan
  • Scotland’s Pool A match against Japan in Yokohama on Sunday is also under threat from the extreme weather, with a decision on whether it goes ahead set to be taken on the morning of the game

TOKYO: Scotland’s rugby chief insisted he won’t allow his side to become “collateral damage” at the Rugby World Cup as he fights off moves to cancel Sunday’s decisive pool clash with Japan over an incoming typhoon.
World Cup organizers have already taken the unprecedented decision to axe Saturday’s matches between England and France and New Zealand and Italy with Typhoon Hagibis poised to hit Japan’s east coast.
Scotland’s Pool A match against Japan in Yokohama on Sunday is also under threat from the extreme weather, with a decision on whether it goes ahead set to be taken on the morning of the game.
Assuming Ireland manage at least a losing bonus in their final pool match against Samoa on Saturday, the Scots will need a victory over Japan to have a chance of reaching the last eight.
But if their game is called off and, under tournament regulations, declared a 0-0 draw, the two points Scotland will then receive won’t stop them being eliminated.
“My view is that we’re not going to let Scotland be the collateral damage for a decision that was taken in haste,” SRU chief executive Mark Dodson told BBC Radio Four’s Today program on Friday.
“I think there’s alternative (venues) around Japan.”
World Rugby has insisted the only two options are playing the Scotland-Japan match as scheduled, or cancelation.
But Scotland dispute this interpretation of the rulebook, arguing a ‘force majeure’ clause allows for weather-affected pool games to be rescheduled, as can happen in the knockout phase.
Dodson said that while the question of whether the match took place on Sunday was now a “purely meteorological issue,” and public safety was the priority, canceling the fixture would wreck the “sporting integrity” of the tournament.
“World Rugby seem to be determined to stick to its plan that the match is either played on Sunday or indeed it is canceled, and to have it canceled and have our ability to progress from this group put at peril, we believe is absolutely unacceptable,” added Dodson, who warned legal action remained a possibility.
“World Rugby is pointing us back to the participation agreement. We’ve had legal opinion — from a leading QC (senior lawyer) — that challenges World Rugby’s interpretation.
“We don’t know that (it’s too late) — we have to challenge it. This is about the game and rugby supporters across the world are absolutely astounded at this rigidity from World Rugby.”
“The common-sense approach to this is to play the game 24 hours later in perfect safety where we can make sure that the pool stages are completed,” he added.
Meanwhile, Scotland coach Gregor Townsend dropped captain Stuart McInally to the bench and installed experienced scrum-half Greig Laidlaw as skipper when he named his team on Friday.
Fraser Brown starts at hooker instead of McInally, yet to find his best form in Japan.
Brown, who started at flanker in Wednesday’s 61-0 hammering of Russia, is one of three Dark Blues players who will be kicking off for the second time in four days together with wings Tommy Seymour and Darcy Graham.
Scotland, who started this World Cup with a woeful 27-3 loss to Ireland, are up against a Japan side who’ve won all three of their group games so far.
“The opportunity to face the hosts in such a decisive pool match will be a unique occasion and should be a great spectacle,” said Townsend.
“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,” he added.

Scotland (15-1)
Stuart Hogg; Tommy Seymour, Chris Harris, Sam Johnson, Darcy Graham; Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw (capt); Blade Thomson, Jamie Ritchie, Magnus Bradbury; Jonny Gray, Grant Gilchrist; Willem Nel, Fraser Brown, Allan Dell
Replacements: Stuart McInally, Gordon Reid, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings, Ryan Wilson, George Horne, Pete Horne, Blair Kinghorn


Fury and Wilder weigh in big for their big heavyweight fight

Updated 22 February 2020

Fury and Wilder weigh in big for their big heavyweight fight

  • The two unbeaten heavyweights meet in a showdown just 14 months after they fought to a draw in a dramatic fight in Los Angeles

LAS VEGAS: Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder made one last appearance Friday before their big heavyweight title fight, weighing in and taunting each other before a raucous crowd at the MGM Grand arena.
Wilder weighed 231 pounds, the heaviest of his career, for his 11th title defense. Fury, meanwhile, tipped the scales at 273 pounds, just 3 pounds short of his heaviest ever, too, for Saturday night’s rematch.
The fighters jawed at each other from a distance after getting on the scales in the arena. Nevada boxing officials ruled they would not have a faceoff after pushing each other at the final press conference on Wednesday.
Thousands of fans, most of them supporting Fury, jammed the arena, waiting for several hours for the fighters to make their brief appearance on the scales. Though separated, the two fighters jawed at each other, much like they did at the press conference promoting the pay-per-view bout.
``I just told him, `24 hours, 24 hours,’’’ Wilder said. ``He’s nervous, nervous energy as always.’’
The two unbeaten heavyweights meet in a showdown just 14 months after they fought to a draw in a dramatic fight in Los Angeles. The fight is arguably the biggest heavyweight bout since Lennox Lewis demolished Mike Tyson in 2002, and both fighters could make some $40 million if the pay-per-view sells well.

Wilder weighed in at 231 pounds. (AFP)

Fury weighed in 16.5 pounds heavier than the first fight, and just 3 pounds short of what he weighed in his first comeback fight in 2018 after being out of the ring with drug and alcohol problems. Wilder was also heavier than expected, weighing 18.5 pounds more than the first fight.
``The weight’s not a problem,’’ the 6-foot-9 Fury said. ``It’s 273 pounds of pure British beef.’’
A fight that promises intriguing matchups matches two fighters with claims to titles — Fury’s is the mythical lineal crown — in a rematch of their draw a little more than a year ago. In that fight, Fury dominated the boxing but Wilder knocked him down in the ninth and 12th rounds before the judges scored it a draw.
Fury (29-0-1, 20 knockouts) predicted in the weeks leading up to the fight he would weigh about 270 pounds. He said he added the weight because he intends to go after Wilder from the opening bell in the rematch to try and score an early knockout.
``At the end of the day, we’re heavyweights,’’ Wilder said. ``So it doesn’t really matter about the weight.’’
In addition to the weight, Fury will have to deal with the possibility of the cut suffered around his right eye in his last fight will reopen. He usually trains without headgear but used it for the rematch because of the 47 stitches it took to sew the cut up after his hard-fought win in September against Sweden’s Otto Wallin.
Wilder (42-0-1, 41 knockouts) is making the 11th defense of the crown he won in 2015, the same year Fury beat Wladimir Klitschko to win a piece of the title. Fury didn’t fight for more than two years after that, giving up his crown as he descended into mental and drug problems and his weight ballooned to 375 pounds.