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Gripes over squad limits came too late, insist chiefs


Ben Toolis suffered a head injury against Georgia (Graham Stuart/PA)
Ben Toolis suffered a head injury against Georgia (Graham Stuart/PA)

By Nick Purewal

World Rugby bosses have hit back at claims 31-man World Cup squads threaten player welfare by insisting top coaches left their objections too late to have any effect for the 2019 tournament.

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Ireland boss Joe Schmidt - who would have selected a third scrum-half, a sixth prop and a sixth back-rower had squads been extended to 34 or 35 as he wanted - has criticised the 31-man limit, suggesting that is not enough players to attack a global tournament without compromising safety.

World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper said the organisation will review squad limits for future tournaments - but insisted coaches like Schmidt needed to raise their concerns far sooner for implementation in Japan.

"The first thing I would say is that we're never entrenched in one particular position; that position has come quite late in the day," said Gosper.

"We believe that there's good player welfare parameters experienced around the size of the squads.

"Coaches generally want more players at their disposal and we understand that. Looking forward, we might look at that.

"It does have cost implications but, of course, if we do sense and understand that there are real player welfare gains in those squad changes, we would move towards that. So we're not closed to that."

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