herald

Tuesday 19 November 2019

Squads must be increased in time for World Cup

Bundee Aki
Bundee Aki

Ireland have used 34 players after just three rounds of the Six Nations, three more than they will be permitted to take to the Rugby World Cup.

There have been 24 different starters with just Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray, Tadhg Furlong, Peter O'Mahony, Bundee Aki, Keith Earls and Jacob Stockdale providing 'the magnificent seven' that have started all three encounters.

The strain on international rugby players is immense around this time of the year. They had just emerged out of the swinging responsibilities of the November internationals, the busy Christmas period and four rounds of the Champions Cup.

Then, they were immediately met with the rigours of the Six Nations championship, five internationals carried on over the course of seven weeks.

After that, there is the business end of the season where, if everything goes to plan, the European Cup/Challenge Cup and PRO14 League will be up for grabs.

All the while, World Rugby has uncovered their intention to stuff even more high-grade rugby into a stacked season.

Whatever the governing body of the game puts out there, it can only be interpreted as a money grab.

Okay, it has to figure out how to feed everyone in the game from the great to the new.

But, at what cost to the players?

They preach growing the game when their intended actions would just about ruin the South Sea islands of Samoa and Tonga, even though Fiji have been included in the plan.

All anyone with a deep interest in the game has to do to evaluate World Rugby's care for players is to ask one question.

Why has the number of players for Rugby World Cup squads stayed stationary since the first competition in 1987?

The rocketing rate of injuries since those amateur days has led to all sorts of research and evidence to show how many more shoulders and knees have been reconstructed, not to forget the concussion issue.

Why isn't the squad number closer to 40?

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