A furious row has broken out in Japan where Scottish rugby chiefs have notified World Rugby of their intention to take legal action to ensure that the governing body of rugby's World Cup does "whatever it takes" to ensure that Scotland's final pool game against Japan is played.
The Scots' legal advice is that under tournament rules there is flexibility to adjust the tournament schedule in cases of force majeure, and that the arrival of Typhoon Hagibis clearly qualifies as such.
At a series of lengthy and bad-tempered meetings, which lasted for most of Thursday and ended late into the evening, Scottish Rugby's chief executive Mark Dodson – who was described by one insider as being "in a state of apoplexy" - and chief operating officer Dominic McKay were fighting to ensure that their final pool game goes ahead.
The Scots' preferred outcome is to move the game back by 24 hours from its current time of 7.45pm on Sunday in Yokohama, to Monday at the same time. They stress that by then Typhoon Hagibis – whose arrival has already caused two games to be cancelled – is expected to have passed. If, however, their game is cancelled and the result declared a draw, the Scots will almost certainly be eliminated from the tournament at the pool stage.
That unconscionable outcome moved a step nearer on Thursday when Italy's match against New Zealand on Saturday 12th October, in which the Azzurri needed a bonus point win to advance to the quarter-finals, was summarily cancelled without any prior warning. The Italian coach Conor O'Shea and captain Sergio Parisse were in Tokyo waiting to announce their team to play the All Blacks at 1pm when they received an email at 12.59pm of the draft press release announcing that the game had been cancelled. A senior source in the Scotland squad who spoke to the Italians said that they team management were "utterly heartbroken" by the decision.
In a development that seems sure to cloud the rest of the tournament and have ramifications way into the future, insiders claim that the match between the All Blacks and Italy could have been postponed until Monday, but that the All Blacks were not willing to consider a turnaround of just five days between their final pool game and their quarter-final, which is due to be played on Saturday 19th October.
With England versus France also being postponed, also affecting the possible outcome in Pool C, tournament director Alan Gilpin is now insisting that a precedent has been set and that a "one size fits all" approach is the only fair way to proceed.
Describing the situation as "shambolic" and "embarrassing", a senior spokesman for Scottish Rugby said that World Rugby's handling of the affair has been disgracefully poor, and that unless it comes to its sense and adheres to its own tournament regulations, the Union will have no choice but to take immediate legal action.
"We're willing to do whatever it takes to get this game [between Scotland and Japan] on," said the spokesman. "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.
"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."