The scheduling for the pool games in the 2015 Rugby World Cup has been deemed unfair for many. While some teams get full weeks between games, others get just two or three days. It also leads to non-rugby fans being forced to either watch a game they dislike or find something else to do most nights of the week.
This debate comes up every day. There are around 22 days between the start and end of the pool phase of the tournament. Teams have four games to play, as there are five countries in each of the four pools. It has been this way for some time, but it seems the same teams get the longer breaks compared to others.
The last Rugby World Cup saw England get 22 days to complete the full pool period, while Scotland had just 17 days. That meant fewer days of rest, which the Guardian says is unnecessary. There is a way to ensure that all teams get six days rest between games, by only scheduling games between Thursday and Sunday. The publication recommends having two games on Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays, and four games on the Saturdays.
The Telegraph agrees that the decision for pool scheduling is unfair. Fiji has played two of the big three teams in its pool already: England and Australia. The team only had five days for the two games, and will play Wales on Thursday. The team has so far lost both of its games, and is expected to lose against Wales, the team that beat England by just three points on Saturday night.
Wales fans are annoyed that the team has to play Fiji just five days after the gruelling game against England. Meanwhile, England gets to wait until Saturday to play against Australia, and Australia has six days to recover from its weekend game of rugby against Fiji.
It is already noticeable how the scheduling is affecting teams. Japan shocked many with a two point victory over South Africa. However, when it came to facing Scotland just 94 hours later, they struggled to keep up in the second half. Even Scotland captain Greg Laidlaw said it was clear the team was flagging by the end of the first half. The Scottish players have spent a long time training to improve fitness levels, so they can all last the full 80 minutes of a rugby game.
This is certainly not the first time the scheduling for the Rugby World Cup has come into question. In 2011, Tonga had just five days between facing New Zealand and then Canada. The second game was lost by five points, but may have been won if the team had a longer break. By Tonga winning that game, France would have failed to qualify from Pool A that year.
Another issue is the number of injuries possibly due to not enough recovery time. While Wales was instantly hit with injuries before the tournament started, it has now lost three more players. Scotland has lost at least one, with Finn Russell possibly out with an ankle injury and England has seen one drop out of the tournament. Others of the tier-two teams have also seen players lose out on competing further in the Rugby World Cup 2015.
Despite the options, it turns out that it is not as simple as it seems to make the Rugby World Cup scheduling fairer for all teams. It all comes down to the broadcasters and the cost of airing on certain days.
There are many who complain that the scheduling of the pools is not fair. It seems the bigger teams—the ones expected to go through—get bigger gaps between games than others. This happens every year in the Rugby World Cup, and it does not look like it will change any time soon.
[Featured photo by David Rogers / Getty Images]