3 May 2013

Sport: IRB unveil fairer Rugby World Cup schedule for Tier 2 countries

10:23 am on 3 May 2013

The draw for the 2015 Rugby World Cup has been released with the International Rugby Board sticking to its promise of a fairer, more balanced programme of pool matches for all teams.

Second-tier nations have been forced into a condensed schedule at previous World Cups, with countries including Samoa required to play four pool matches in just 17 days.

But in 2015 both Samoa and Tonga will play their four group games across a window of 20 days, with at least five days between each match.

The IRB Chief Executive Brett Gosper told the IRB's Total Rugby that organisers worked hard to make the draw fair to all teams.

"What we've tried to do is ensure that there's no disparity between the rest days of tier one countries and tier two countries. In the past, the tier two countries have tended to have shorter, more frequent rest-day times which has not been favourable to their performance. This time there will be just five occasions of a three minimum rest day for tier one and for tier two - so not ideal for either but completely balances in terms of how that's apportioned - so no longer do tier twos have any excuse but to perform to their peak."

Samoa will open their tournament against an American qualifier in Brighton, before taking on South Africa at Villa Park in Birmingham, an Asian qualifier in Milton Keynes and Scotland at St James' Park in Newcastle.

Tonga have a softer start against European and African qualifiers in Gloucester and Exeter, before blockbuster encounters with Argentina in Leicester and the All Blacks at St James' Park.

Fiji have yet to qualify for Rugby World Cup 2015, but are likely to fill the spot of Oceania 1 qualifiers, who will open the tournament against England at Twickenham and face both Australia and Wales at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff.