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Last Updated: Monday, 3 November, 2003, 09:41 GMT
IRB admits to 'unfair' draw
Italy coach John Kirwan slammed his side's heavy schedule
Italy coach John Kirwan slammed his side's heavy schedule
The International Rugby Board (IRB) has admitted the World Cup draw was unfairly stacked against poorer countries so tournament organisers could maximise their profits.

IRB chairman Syd Millar told a news conference on Monday that the richer nations were given more time to play their games because of commercial arrangements with broadcasters.

"Yes (it's unfair), but that's the way it is," Millar said.

"We try to give as much rest as possible and try to look at the travelling arrangements and so on but there's also another factor - that we have to generate money.

"TV requires top matches at certain times and we have to be aware of that."

While all the bigger teams had at least 20 days to play their four pool games, the smaller sides' matches were crammed into a much tighter schedule.

It's nearly impossible to please everyone
IRB chief Syd Millar
Tonga and Italy were made to play their four games in 14 days and Argentina were knocked out before England had even started their third game.

The schedule drew a chorus of complaints from the smaller teams but Millar said there was no guarantee things would be different at the next World Cup in 2007.

"It's nearly impossible to please everyone," he said. "The host-union agreement has been signed.

"But if we felt there was something we could do then I'm sure we could do something but at this point in time it's not our intention."

Millar said the IRB was concerned about the widening gap between the richer and poorer countries and would investigate ways of trying to solve the problems once the tournament finished.

Both Tonga and Samoa have threatened to quit the next World Cup
Both Tonga and Samoa have threatened to quit the next World Cup
There was not a single upset in any of the 40 pool matches as the sport's traditional powers - Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and France - all made the quarter-finals.

Some of the minnows concede huge scores and - even worse - some of the best players from the poorer countries pulled out of the tournament for financial reasons.

Samoa and Tonga threatened to boycott the next World Cup unless things improve with Tongan coach Jim Love saying his players felt unwelcome.

"The boys will take away the feeling that they were treated as second-class citizens at this World Cup, and that's how they feel about it," Love said.

The IRB took issue at Love's comments, saying all teams had been treated equally, but Millar admitted the IRB had plenty of problems to solve before the next World Cup.

"We are not saying the tournament is perfect," Millar said. "It's much improved from 1999 and we are pleased with it but we must not repeat the mistakes in 2007 that we made now.

"There have been some problems but in general it's been excellent and we can look forward now to the final stages and the big guys pitched together now."





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