World Cup chiefs promise balanced schedule
January 11, 2012
Rugby World Cup Limited managing director Mike Miller talks to the media at Twickenham © Getty Images
Rugby World Cup organisers have promised a "more balanced" schedule in the wake of widespread criticism of last year's tournament that favoured the leading nations.
The International Rugby Board were slammed for a fixture list that gave second tier teams less recovery time between games than the top-ranked teams with the likes of Samoa forced to play four games in a 17-day period. In contrast, hosts New Zealand were afforded at least a week between matches with their games occupying the most fan and TV-friendly slots in the schedule.
However, Rugby World Cup Limited's managing director Mike Miller has revealed that a repeat at the 2015 tournament in England is unlikely with the sporting culture much more open to the idea of big sporting events in mid-week.
"The issue with the fixture schedule isn't the time zone as much, it is really more about the culture of sports viewing in the country," Miller told reporters at the opening of the England Rugby 2015 headquarters at Twickenham. "In New Zealand they don't have a culture of big midweek sports events, that people either go to or watch on TV, so there was huge pressure [at RWC'11] to have all the big matches on the weekend which makes it very difficult to have a balanced schedule.
"Here people are used to having big matches on a Tuesday or Wednesday so it makes it easier to have a more balanced schedule. We have already acknowledged that situation and so there will be a more balanced schedule in 2015.
"It's about creating the best possible mix for everyone, for the teams, for the spectators, for the broadcasters," he continued. "I think there will be a mix, there will be big matches at the weekend and midweek as well.
"Because we can no put big matches midweek as well it gives us the chances to make it more balanced. The problem is that we have four pools of five which makes it difficult to balance out the schedule but that is something we will work on with the organising committee to make sure we get right."
The schedule is set to be discussed by the leading nations later this year with the exact tournament dates due to be announced in March with the pool draw to follow in November. And contrary to reports of a threatened boycott of the World Cup by the likes of New Zealand and Australia in protest at the current financial model, Miller is confident all the leading sides will be present.
"When it comes to distributing revenues, everyone tries to maximise what they get," Miller explained. "It's complex as you can imagine. We have another meeting of the Tier 1 chairmen and chief executives in March to discuss these issues. People negotiate in different ways but the World Cup was hugely successful, everyone was there, and I fully expect everyone to be there in England as well."
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