World Rugby chiefs have dismissed claims smaller nations will be “handicapped” at next year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan with less recovery time between matches compared to the game’s leading countries.


Pacific Rugby Players chief executive Dan Leo is fronting a campaign to get Tier 2 nations more representation on the World Rugby Council and remains adamant the system is fundamentally unfair despite Samoa being handed a place on the game’s ruling body.

World Rugby is sidestepping direct conflict with Leo, but it is understood they believe significant improvements to the treatment of Tier 2 countries has been instigated, making next year’s World Cup the fairest yet staged.

The counter argument from World Rugby is based on the view that the 2019 tournament has the most balanced playing schedule of any World Cup and they point to the fact that hosts Japan (20) and Tonga and Namibia( both 18) are amongst the teams with the most rest days between Pool matches.

Unlike the 2015 World Cup staged in England, no Tier 2 nation will face a Tier 1 nation after a shorter rest period. In total there will be just two periods of four rest days for Tier 2 nations compared to nine in 2015.

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Leo insists that the Repechage winner that will emerge next month from the play off between Kenya, Germany, Canada and Hong Kong will be an example of an unfair system as they will get less time to prepare for Pool B where they join New Zealand, South Africa, Italy and Namibia. However, World Rugby insist the winner will have the same 18 days to play their four Pool games as double champions South Africa.


However, Leo remains steadfast in his view that not enough is being done and said, “While the awarding of Samoa’s council vote would certainly be a step in the right direction and testament to the campaign, it is certainly not mission complete by any stretch of the imagination

“What the world of sport needs to focus on is that even if the Samoa news is confirmed, there could still be six tier two unions competing at the Rugby World Cup next year who have no seat on the main political body, no vote for the chairmanship and even have no representative on the game’s many committee structures.”

“As a result of this lack of political representation, there is no pushback when Rugby World Cup organisers effectively handicap these tier two countries out of the tournament by giving them a much harder schedule than the richer tier one unions who have the permanent voting majority.”

Watch: Dan Leo Life After Sport

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