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Bosses may reconsider RWC draw

Published 18/08/2015

Brett Gosper says head injuries must be properly managed at the World Cup
Brett Gosper says head injuries must be properly managed at the World Cup

Tournament bosses will seek to avoid another pool of death like England's group-stage dogfight with Australia, Wales and Fiji in future Rugby World Cups.

England, Australia and Wales would all expect to reach a World Cup quarter-final without great threat, but only two teams can qualify from Pool A at next month's competition.

World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper admitted that holding the 2015 World Cup pool draw in December 2012 "did seem a long way out".

Now the game's governing body will attempt to delay the draw for the 2019 World Cup in Japan for as long as possible.

"It's under discussion, it's not been determined yet," said Gosper of the 2019 draw.

"What's important is all the teams know when it happens and they can plan accordingly and play their games accordingly.

"We're going to review what the ideal timing is.

"We would endeavour to make it a bit later but nothing's been decided at this point."

World Cup hosts England face the very realistic fear of bombing out of their own competition before the knockout phases when they ought to be planning on going the distance.

Stuart Lancaster's men kick-off their World Cup assault by hosting Fiji at Twickenham on Friday, September 18, with Australia and Wales both also offering severe threats.

England know full well any slip-ups will mean early elimination and red-faces when as hosts they ought to be plotting their course to the competition's latter stages.

The seedings for World Cup pool draws are based on world rankings at the time, and Wales' winless November in 2012 had a big hand in the creation of such a daunting line-up.

Australia at world number three, England as the fifth-best side and Wales the ninth were all drawn from different pots, and eventually mixed together.

"It did seem a long way out," said Gosper of the 2015 draw.

"You want it to be a true reflection, I guess, of the position at the time of the tournament.

"You've got to balance the proximity of the tournament with all of the planning that goes into it.

"We'll look at that next time to see if it's possible to make that draw closer to the tournament."

World Cup bosses are "unlikely" to disqualify teams for breaching concussion protocols, but could impose fines should competitors flout head-injury safety guidelines.

Gosper warned World Rugby will scrutinise every head injury in a new crackdown, but stopped short of vowing to throw out any rule-breakers.

"No, no: it's unlikely that would happen," Gosper told Press Association Sport when asked if teams could face disqualification.

"We think there will be compliance anyway.

"Everyone knows this is a very serious and important subject, and we're dealing with a medical area.

"We don't envisage misuse of the protocols that we have, but we think it's important to state that non-compliance will be sanctioned, because this is a very important area for us."

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