The pool phase will be a week longer to ensure a minimum of five days between matches and final moves to 28 October

Rugby World Cup 2023 Extended

The 2023 Rugby World Cup in France has been extended to ensure a minimum of five days between matches.

To accommodate the rest days, the pool phase will be a week longer and the final has been moved back seven days so will now be played on 28 October 2023.

The decision is part of several player welfare initiatives World Rugby has announced for the tournament. Squad sizes will increase from 31 to 33 players and travel will also be minimised for teams.

It’s the first time all teams will have at least five days to rest and recover between matches, with former internationals Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland) and Melodie Robinson (New Zealand) central to discussions. The pair sit on the Rugby World Cup Board as representatives of International Rugby Players – the global players’ body.

O’Driscoll said: “The game has become too physical and competitive for short turnarounds. All teams have found it tough, particularly those without the squad depth of the major nations. This is a positive step forward for the game and further demonstration of how International Rugby Players and World Rugby can work together towards better outcomes.”

International Rugby Players CEO Omar Hassanein added: “This is a very positive move for the game and one which has been endorsed by all our member player associations from across the globe. I applaud all Rugby World Cup board members and World Rugby management for supporting this move and for adapting the schedule accordingly.”

There are also plans to introduce guidance for teams around training load, with player welfare to the fore.

World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “This is a landmark day for Rugby World Cup and the sport. As a rugby father, former player, fan and administrator, player welfare is at the very top of my agenda. This continued focus for a player-first decision reflects that commitment.

“This decision means that every player and every team will have a fairer chance to perform to their potential in every fixture, and now we will work with the teams to reduce overall load for players.”

The full match schedule for RWC 2023 will be announced on Friday 26 February.

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