That World Rugby found a way to fine and sanction Scottish Rugby – really, chief executive Mark Dodson, as he was the one making the statements in Yokohama a month ago – should surprise no-one.
Whatever the findings of “independent” panels, WR were simply embarrassed by Dodson’s defence of Scotland’s case in Japan, pointing out that their “robust contingencies” to deal with match postponements were actually non-existent, and going to the trouble of consulting a QC to make the point there was wiggle-room in the tournament regulations to reschedule the final pool game.
WR were always going to ensure some sanction. The relatively low fine of £70,000 should be enough, as Dodson’s words did sail close to the wind at one point, but the dynamic at work here is illustrated by WR’s insistence on a “meaningful apology” from Scottish Rugby.
It’s an entirely unnecessary addendum, clearly designed to make Dodson grovel. He and Scottish Rugby should ignore it.
Hiding behind the apparent offence caused to the Japanese nation won’t wash either. No-one I met in Japan was offended at Scotland’s stance – they, like the Scots, avidly wanted to play the game.
In the following weeks the Japanese have agreed to play men’s and women’s internationals in Scotland next November. Hardly the action of people who have been mortally offended.
In any case, the apology the panel insist on is to be made to World Rugby and Rugby World Cup Limited – not to the Japanese RU or people. Funny, that.
The panel did throw out the charge – still being repeated without any evidence whatsoever of it ever being said – that Scottish Rugby had threatened legal action. Dodson did no such thing, the statement was in a headline in a London newspaper on top of a story which did not contain any such threat.
In the end, Dodson’s suggestion that there was, in World Rugby’s words, “an unfair and disorganised treatment of all teams” is what has resulted in the fine.
Everyone knows that there would never have been a question of cancellation had it been New Zealand, or South Africa, or England at threat of going out of the competition.
Sergio Parisse, the distinguished captain of Italy, said exactly that at a press conference after their game with New Zealand was cancelled. Strangely, there appears to be no question of disciplinary action or sanction on him.