Schmidt concerned over World Cup numbers game

“I think it’s a very tight number that World Rugby limit you to”

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has highlighted a player welfare issue that promises to have a major impact at the World Cup in Japan. World Rugby have kept squad numbers for the tournament at 31 players with teams needing at least five props and three hookers.

"With 31 players I think it's a very tight number that World Rugby limit you to," said Schmidt following the 29-10 victory over Italy at the Aviva stadium.

"You know, they talk about player welfare but we've a six-day turnaround (between the Scotland and Japan games) into a five-day turnaround (between Japan and Russia) and 31 players, that's very, very complicated. And that's all the teams. I'm not saying that's just tough for us. I think all the teams have tight turnarounds at stages."

Ireland are already awaiting medical updates on Joey Carbery (ankle), Rob Herring (back) and Devin Toner (ankle) before returning to camp in Carton House on Wednesday with up to 43 players travelling to Portugal for warm weather training next week.


“We’ll see how the players came through today but we I think we’ll probably travel with about 40 but it could be 43, just depending on (the fact that) we want to have good training numbers. One of the problems, I think, is that as you branch off with a smaller squad, just keeping those guys up to speed with what we’re trying to develop.

"It becomes a little bit of a difficulty for us, especially if we pick up a injury. We're playing England, Wales and Wales. Physically big teams and physically bigger than we are, therefore there tends to be a risk of attrition and we don't want those other players to get too far away from us because we want them up to speed if they do miss out on that 31 in the end."

Ireland didn't have a major issue with 31 player squads during the 2015 World Cup as the tournament took place in England and Wales but non-stop flights to Tokyo range from 11 to 16 hours. The final squads must be submitted by September 8th.