Ireland’s bonus point victory over Samoa in their final Pool A match has set up a thrilling decider between Japan and Scotland on Sunday.
The game holds plenty of interest for fans of both the Springboks and All Blacks as it will determine who the Rugby Championship heavyweights face in their quarterfinals.
The Brave Blossoms have played in two of the three draws in Rugby World Cup history, and Scotland featured in the third. Another stalemate in Yokohama would suit the hosts just fine. The Rugby played by Japan has been on another level, driven not just by passion but by some smart decision-making on the fly and superb conditioning. Scotland progressed from their pool four years ago by beating Japan but will find the Blossoms pose a far greater challenge than they did under Eddie Jones.
Japan have never made it beyond the group stages but have won their last four RWC matches in a row.
Match still hangs in the balance
World Rugby and tournament organisers are doing everything they can to ensure the match goes ahead but the group may end in a cancellation due to Typhoon Hagibis.
Two matches have already been cancelled in the final week of pool action but Scotland feel that cancellation would be unfair on them. If the match is called off it will be recorded as a scoreless draw and Japan would move to the top of the group and progress alongside Ireland.
World Rugby took a dim view of the Scottish Rugby Union’s decision to seek legal counsel in response to a possible cancelletion.
“It is disappointing that the Scottish Rugby Union should make such comments at a time when we are doing everything we can to enable all Sunday’s matches to take place as scheduled,” World Rugby said in a statement.
Defeat not necessarily the end for Japan
Japan could still progress from the Pool even if Scotland beats them in Yokohama. If Scotland win but fail to gather a bonus point and Japan in turn earn a losing or four-try bonus point, Japan will progress in second place. If Japan earn a losing bonus point and a four try bonus point, they will progress as group winners and Scotland will exit the tournament. A draw or any form of win for Japan will also see them top the group by virtue of their head-to-head result against Ireland.
Japan are scheduled to face Scotland at 12:45 (SAST) on Sunday 13 October in the fourth match of the final day of Rugby World Cup Pool action.
In the other action of the day Wales need a win or a draw against Uruguay to secure top spot in the group and book a quarterfinal with France in the only other contest of consequence.