'We stand with the great people of Japan' - SRU responds to World Rugby 'misconduct' charge

The Scottish Rugby Union has responded to World Rugby's misconduct charge over comments made by chief executive Mark Dodson ahead of Sunday's typhoon-threatened match with Japan.

SRU chief Mark Dodson's comments ahead of the Japan v Scotland game have landed the union in trouble with the sport's world governing body. Picture: SRU/SNS

The game's world governing body took the unprecedented step yesterday of referring the SRU to an "independent disputes committee" after Dodson made a forceful case that Scotland would not accept the crucial Pool A match in Yokohama being simply cancelled, as others at the weekend were, without exploring alternative options.

In the end, the game went ahead and Scotland lost 28-21 to an inspired host nation on an emotion-fuelled occasion which ended their campaign at the pool stage but yesterday World Rugby said it considered the comments "disappointing" and worthy of charges being laid.

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Rugby World Cup tournament director Alan Gilpin said at a press conference in Tokyo: "We are very careful that people behave appropriately and we have referred to an independent disputes committee the comments by the Scottish Rugby Union and it would be inappropriate to comment further."

A statement issued at noon Japan time today by an SRU spokesperson said: "Scottish Rugby once again expresses its sincere condolences to the people of Japan and all those affected by Typhoon Hagibis which struck last weekend.

"We have been able to convey our best wishes directly to the Mayor of Yokohama and the Chairman of the Japanese Rugby Union. We stand with the great people of Japan.

“Following receipt of correspondence yesterday from World Rugby, Scottish Rugby confirms that it has received a notice of complaint from Rugby World Cup Ltd. Scottish Rugby is querying whether the matter is an appropriate one for the bringing of Misconduct charges.

"If Misconduct proceedings are to proceed, Scottish Rugby looks forward to receiving a fair hearing in this matter. No further comment would be appropriate at this time."

The Scotsman understands that the SRU remains unsure of what exactly an "independent disputes committee" entails and how the process will be conducted and what sanctioning power it would hold.

The Scotland players, team management and officials are now making their way home after the disappointing early exit from the tournament but it is believed the SRU would want any such hearing to be held face to face and have the ability to make its case fully and in detail, not swiftly dealt with by an administrative court.

The thrust of that case would be that, while at all times being mindful to the severity of Typhoon Hagibis and the most important issue being public safety, that the "robust contingency plans" organisers said were in place for a tournament being held during Japan's typhoon season descended into ad-hoc match cancellations and a lack of communication with affected teams.

It is believed Dodson made his decision to go public, first in a radio interview and then at a swiftly-arranged press conference in Yokohama on Friday, after being frustrated by the lack of communication from the organisers and authorities on what, if any, contingency plans could be explored and was not willing to sit idly and see Scotland timed out of the competition.

Pre-tournament rules stated that any pool matches that could not be completed on the scheduled day would be void and declared a 0-0 draw, but the SRU felt that there was scope in the participation agreement signed by all competing nations for flexibility when it came to force majeure or exceptional circumstances.

The SRU sought advice from a QC over the matter as it sought to clarify its legal position.

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