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Those responsible for another failed schedule have much to answer for.
This is a big one!
Mr. Gosper's contention in the video release is that he and his associates at the IRB have not only equalized the number of rest days between Tier 1 and Tier 2 nations but that the short turnaround periods were both limited and equally apportioned.
What we've tried to do is ensure that there is no disparity in the rest days of Tier 1 countries and Tier 2 countries. In the past, the Tier 2 countries have tended to have more frequent short rest periods, which has not been favourable to their performance.
This time, there will be just five [emphasis added] occasions of a three day rest period for Tier 1 and for Tier 2. So, [its] not ideal for either but [is] completely balanced in terms of how that's apportioned.
Tier 1 and Tier 2—balanced rest days.
Well, first off, five short turnaround rest periods cannot possibly be equally apportioned, but we'll put that aside for a minute. At first glance, it really does appear that the IRB has, for once, distributed some limited amount of pain amongst the Tier 1 countries.
Rugby powers like New Zealand, Australia and France all have short three-day turnarounds, while the unfortunate nations from Tier 2 who must struggle with short rest breaks will come from Europe and Africa.
So has Mr. Gosper kept his word?
When one examines these contentions it quickly becomes clear that there is nothing fair nor balanced about how these short turnaround windows have been managed.
In Pool D, for example, the second qualifier from Europe will play France on September 23, only to turnaround after three days rest and face the might of Ireland on the 27th of the same month. They will face an Irish team that will have been recovering for an entire week.
At the very end of the tournament, when all teams are struggling to find healthy players, the hard-pressed African qualifier will have to play Argentina on three days rest. The Argentinians will have had double that amount of recovery time.
The very notion that such contests are worthy of World Cup class competition is preposterous on its face.
These shocking matchups might be said to fall into the category of unfortunate scheduling necessities, except that the Tier 1 nations experience no such difficulties with their own short turnarounds.
When one looks at the supposed strain being placed on the Tier 1 nations who were assigned short turnaround windows, it is inevitably the case that they have been matched against the weakest possible opposition.
Coming off of their respective three-day turnarounds, France will face Europe's second qualifier, Australia will take on the tournament's final re-passage entry and the All Blacks will face the qualifier from Africa.
So, while it makes a very good talking point to highlight the short turnarounds being experienced by Tier 1 countries, in practice the schedule remains overwhelmingly constructed in their favour.
Mr. Gosper's final line, stating that Tier 1 and Tier 2 nations have balanced rest days, does not even pass the basic sniff test, which is what we cover in our final fact check.
Prepare yourselves for his next quote.
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