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Last Updated: Sunday, 9 September 2007, 15:25 GMT 16:25 UK
Kirwan questions tough schedule
John Kirwan
Kirwan was appointed Japan coach in October 2006
Japan coach John Kirwan believes the International Rugby Board should take some responsibility for his side's 91-3 World Cup thrashing to Australia.

Kirwan insists the tight tournament schedule forced him into fielding a weakened team so he could focus on playing Fiji four days later.

He sacrificed the match to save his top team for Wednesday's Group B encounter.

Kirwan said: "You need to ask the IRB if they have any regrets about giving us a draw that's unfair."

Despite fielding a virtual reserve side, Kirwan's men trailed just 23-3 at half-time, forcing Australia to change tactics to counter Japan's brave approach.


Former All Black Kirwan believes the lower-ranked nations have been disadvantaged by the scheduling of weekend matches four the big teams, ensuring them longer breaks between games.

He spoke out against reducing the number of competing teams from 20 to 16, saying: "I still believe the future of the game is in Asia. That's where the game needs to grow.

"Some people have said that (fewer) teams is the answer, but that is wrong. It is very important that if we are to change the structure of the World Cup then we don't forget that rugby is a great game played all over the world."

It is unfair and dangerous to have some of those teams playing, amateurs against professionals

Keith Wood

However, former Ireland captain and Lions hooker Keith Wood fears someone could get seriously injured because of the mis-matches in the pool stages of the World Cup.

The predominately amateur players of Japan, Portugal, Georgia, Namibia and the USA go to make up the numbers in the 20-team tournament.

"There should be a second 'B' World Cup, and then maybe the top two, three or four teams from that would qualify," Wood told BBC Radio 5Live's Sportsweek programme.

"It is unfair and a little bit dangerous to have some of those teams playing, amateurs against professionals.

"You can see the jump in the past 12 months with the size of some of the professional teams.

"I am not in favour of a lot of these teams playing, but it is their only window to be seen. It is a problem the IRB have to do an awful lot to resolve."

Australia coach John Connolly said more should be done to develop professional competitions in Argentina, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga and provide more international exposure for Japan and the United States.

"The challenge for the IRB is to move forward in those countries and create more depth," he said.

"Maybe the the South African, Australian and New Zealand rugby boards could bring more countries like them into an expanded Super 14 or Tri-Nations."

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