The disparity in scheduling between the big teams and the smaller teams is clear to see, with Japan, Romania and Fiji handed short turnarounds between games
Everything was supposed to be different this year, no more ‘one rule for me and another for you’.
Yet one week into the World Cup we’re already seeing tier two nations having to overcome impossible schedules.
While Brett Gosper claims that the all teams have been treated equally unlike four years ago, there still appears to be a clear disparity between the big teams and the rest.
The reason for that is there are clearly different circumstances when it comes to four-day turnarounds.
For the likes of France and New Zealand, a second game against Romania and Namibia respectively is not too tough an obstacle, with the depth to cope and more importantly, a lower ranked opposition.
However Japan, Romania and Fiji have all been handed short turnarounds while playing the top two teams in their pools.
The Japanese followed their historic win over South Africa with a clash against second seeds Scotland, Romania will face France then Ireland, while Fiji opened the tournament against England before taking on Australia (and let’s not even get started on playing Wales in Cardiff!)
It’s impossible to ask these tier two sides to perform at their best in back-to-back games, and as Japan showed against Scotland, they inevitably run out of gas against fresher opposition.
Romania have already as good as admitted that they will be forced to put out a second string side against Ireland on Sunday.
“My biggest fear is that we will be competitive (against France) and then might crumble in the second because of the four day gap. Everything is stacked so heavily against us,” explained Romania boss Lynn Howells.
While in that group it might not make a difference, with the group winner likely to come down to the clash between France and Ireland, there are others where it could prove crucial.
Scotland playing a tired Japan picked up a maximum five points at Kingsholm, something that might not have happened against a fresher team.
The same could prove the case with Australia taking on a jaded Fiji team, whereas the Fijians will have much more time to prepare for Wales, who will be coming off a tough game against England four days earlier.
Of course the team who have it easiest are England, with a week between all of their games, it obviously pays to host the tournament!