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From Tom English
On Monday morning we woke to the information of a typhoon going round the Western Pacific Ocean bound for Japan. The agency called it Typhoon Hagibis and within our innocence and since it was thought it might damage Irelands prospects of making the World Cup quarter-finals and raise Scotlands likelihood, it was filmed Hurricane Haggis.
Many Scots were laughing then. Nobody was laughing on Saturday because something began to growl its way towards Yokohama, the place (ideally ) for Scotlands monumental clash with Japan to determine who goes through and that moves out.
Before Hagibis made landfall on Saturday in Shizouka Prefecture in 7pm local time, one man was murdered in Chiba, three were missing after a landslide at Gunma, 211,600 houses were without electricity and evacuation orders had been issued to millions of households.
Planes were trained, trains stopped , roofs were ripped off constructions, record rainfall was captured amid horrible flooding. In the 162kmph, winds were measured at its center and gusting in 234kmph. Each day news presenters stood in front of images depicting what they believed was the complete scale of the terror. You did not need to know the language to acquire their messages gravity.
About 6.20pm an earthquake having a magnitude of 5.7 hit offshore in Katsuura at Chiba. Over 60 miles off the tremor was felt in Yokohama where the Scotland staff are staying. Fraser Brown, the starting hooker of Scotland, tweeted that a movie of his resort corridor moving and Immunology from side to side.
About the floor of the Vista hotel, as supper was eaten by guests, the building swayed softly. Japan has such an history of natural disasters that its individuals are caked in minutes. The staff brought food like nothing had happened. To them, this was normal and that there was nothing to be concerned about. To the tourists, it was spooky.
Sunday will bring the sun back into Yokohama – but can we have a game? The word is that World Cup organisers will have a site inspection around 6am (22:00 BST) and can announce a decision between 8am and 10am. Thats not a hard and fast deadline. Technically, they could wait until six hours before kick-off – 1.45pm local (05:45 BST) – to make their call.
That was exactly what Scottish Rugby thought they were going to do. Its understood that they realised that a decision may come hours before when they see it in an online media report on Friday. Theyre livid at the things they say is a lack of communication and information from World Rugby.
Relations between both bodies could be worse. There is going to be outcry in the SRU if the game does not occur. This row will operate and run. On its surface the SRU might be limited in their choices but only one thing is for certain – in the event of a doomsday scenario they are not minded to move quietly.
Without wanting to be a hostage to fortune there had been indications late on Saturday in Yokohama which Hagibis, thankfully, was not going to wreak the dreadful havoc called and loss of life and damage to infrastructure wouldnt be anywhere near the realms of the horrors of Kanto and Izu typhoon of 1958, a disaster that killed 1,200 individuals and one which Hagibis had been said to equal.
What all does it mean to the almighty saga of the denouement of Scotland with Japan on Sunday? Its still too early to state. Nobody was at the stadium when Hagibis was at its most barbarous and when the majority rain fell, so nobody knows what damage exists . Flooding is a significant worry.
It might be called by the organisers off they may allow it to go ahead behind closed doors or, even if the harm is not significant, the show that is complete might proceed in front of a capacity crowd. Nobody understands. Until the group of inspectors perform their work, everybody is imagining.
Scotland and Japan continue to prepare as they must, as if the game is a certainty. Despite Hagibis hubbub along with the war of words between Scottish Rugby and World Rugby using Jamie Joseph throwing his barbs as well, this was already a Test that captivated the sport. Now its an unmissable affair for anyone whos ever picked up a ball.
The tv audience in Japan will be huge, in or around, if we get a match. The hosts are the group with the support of much of the world, beyond Scotland and Ireland who have a vested interest in those losing. The tournament has been electrified by japan. Their brilliantly was the highlight so far.
Remember that Scotland need to take four more things out of the sport compared to Japan – and Scotland arent in the company of winning and going into the garden of teams, not mind winning with a margin. Discounting the victory over Italy in the neutral venue of Singapore, at Townsends time they have have only managed three off wins from Tier One counties – that is what Japan realistically are now – and just one of these, Argentina in 2018, was by the margin of success thatll cut down it on Sunday.
Obviously they can win by less than seven points as they have a four-try bonus stage. Thats tough to see, nonetheless.
Joseph complained that his boys are disrespected in areas. It is hard to know if he meant it or should he said it that his players thought that it adding more fuel to their fire. It is not true. For this Japan side there has been nothing but respect from Scotland.
Theyre a side that could play at pace while maintaining precision, a group of ambition and work-rate and skill. Theirs is a twisted new rugby. Fitness levels are sky high. They have not lacked for mental resilience. Japan proved against Ireland that rate could be as powerful as power. Irelands grunt was no match for their energy.
Directed from the Michael Leitch, theyre an fine side, hewn from their Sunwolves adventures in Super Rugby. If Scotland were to triumph with that magic margin of eight things it would go down in just two decades as their triumph.
Scotland routed Russia and Samoa. Opposition, for sure, but the team of Gregor Townsend needed a mental toughness about them that impressed. Have they discovered something in childhood? Sunday will inform. Darcy Graham is a personality. Fearless. Magnus Bradbury is constructing on his promise. Jamie Ritchie is currently revealing just what a player. Blade Thomson is alive up to the hype, however that is their ultimate Test today. This is where they sink or float.
Yes, we sofa everything from the understanding that it was Russia and Samoa, but the mindset was a thousand times better than it had been against Ireland. Together with Scotland you feel that getting the right mindset is half the battle. They have had it and a classic can ensue if they have it again.
They believe theyre prepared have flopped and when acknowledging that they have been down this road many times. That is an away match and we know what Scotland are generally like when playing in another teams stadium together with the pressure on. Nostradamus could have given up calling what this team was about to send from 1 week to another, although at their best they could do so.
Then theyll travel in expectation to perform with a superb team, Should they get to go to the scene, however a staff maybe burdened by expectation. The only wish is that the sport is played by needing to take off it, and their own credibility isnt further undermined by the governing body of the sport. The world would like to observe this one. The expectancy, and the stakes, are as high as the maximum skyscraper in Yokohama.