Scotland CEO Mark Dodson threatens legal action over Japan game

Scottish Rugby Union chief executive Mark Dodson said he is ready to launch a legal challenge to prevent World Cup organisers cancelling his country's game against Japan on Sunday -- a measure that would almost certainly eliminate the Scots.

A decision on the game in Yokohama will be made on Sunday when officials are able to assess the level of damage from Typhoon Hagibis, which has already forced the cancellation of two games due to be played on Saturday.

One of those -- New Zealand v Italy -- eliminated the Italians and World Rugby are adamant that the rules, which say cancelled pool games cannot be rescheduled, must be applied identically across the board.

Should the Yokohama match be cancelled, both Scotland and Japan would receive two points each, meaning Japan and Ireland would finish in the top two in Pool A and reach the quarter-finals, providing the Irish beat the already-eliminated Samoa in their final game.

World Rugby have said they are looking at alternatives -- expected to be playing at a different venue or possibly behind closed doors -- but Dodson says that there is also a "force majeure" clause that should enable the game to be played on a delayed date.

"My view is that we're not going to let Scotland be the collateral damage for a decision that was taken in haste," he told the BBC on Friday.

"I think there are alternative (venues) around Japan. If it can't take place on Sunday then we're really, really pressing the point that we need to have to get this game delayed 24 hours."

Dodson said that he had made little progress despite constant dialogue with tournament organisers, describing the concept of a further cancellation as "absolutely unacceptable".

He added that the SRU had taken legal opinion that "unravels the World Rugby case". Asked if it was too late to mount a legal challenge, he said: "We don't know that - we have to challenge it. 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 and the sporting integrity of the tournament remains intact."

Many Scots fear that there is little chance of a change, believing that World Rugby are favouring the home nation as they desperately want a tier two team, and particularly the host nation, in the knockout phase.

Meanwhile, head coach Gregor Townsend dropped captain Stuart McInally and made 12 changes to the side for their do-or-die World Cup Pool A clash.

A largely second-string Scotland ran in nine tries on the way to a 61-0 win over Russia on Wednesday, giving them an opportunity to advance to the quarter-final with a win over Japan.

There is still an element of doubt that the match will go ahead due to Typhoon Hagibis, which has already forced the cancellation of Saturday's games between England and France in Yokohama and New Zealand v Italy in Toyota City.

Scrumhalf Greig Laidlaw will lead the team, wingers Darcy Graham and Tommy Seymour have been retained from the starting side that beat Russia, while Fraser Brown, who played openside flanker against the Bears, has shifted back to hooker.

Scotland starting XV to face Japan:

15. Stuart Hogg, 14. Tommy Seymour, 13. Chris Harris, 12. Sam Johnson, 11. Darcy Graham, 10. Finn Russell, 9. Greig Laidlaw (C), 8. Blade Thomson, 7. Jamie Ritchie, 6. Magnus Bradbury, 5. Jonny Gray, 4. Grant Gilchrist, 3. Willem Nel, 2. Fraser Brown, 1. Allan Dell

Replacements: 16. Stuart McInally, 17. Gordon Reid, 18. Zander Fagerson, 19. Scott Cummings, 20. Ryan Wilson, 21. George Horne, 22. Peter Horne, 23. Blair Kinghorn