Gatland opens up on short turnarounds

Date published: September 30 2015

Wales coach Warren Gatland believes that tournament organisers need to consider having longer breaks between matches at future World Cups.

Gatland's side face Fiji on Thursday having had just four days to recover from a hard-fought win over England, a victory that came after they were afforded five days off after their opening triumph over Uruguay. Japan had to deal with an even tougher run of fixtures, facing Scotland after having just three days of rest after their historic victory over South Africa.

Wales, who lost the services of Leigh Halfpenny, Jonathan Davies Rhys Webb, and Eli Walker prior to the start of the tournament, have also been hard-hit by injuries since the competition got underway. Centre Cory Allen was ruled out of the remainder of the World Cup after suffering a hamstring injury against Uruguay, while Scott Williams (knee) and Hallam Amos (shoulder) joined Allen on the sidelines after picking up injuries against England.

The Welsh are not the only side to be battling with injuries, and Gatland feels that extended turnaround times between matches could see the number of injuries suffered reduced.

"It's something we all need to be aware of because it's a pretty brutal game at the moment," Gatland said.

"It's important we consider and look after the welfare of our players as well.

"I'm not complaining about the short turnaround because we've known about that for a long time. We've had to prepare for that."

He added: "We've still got guys who are battered and bruised this morning and we've got a game in two days.

"I don't know whether four or five-day turnarounds in World Cups are too short."

Gatland believes that increased intensity in the games means that it is more brutal on the players' body, a change that he has witnessed during his two stints with the British and Irish Lions and now with Wales.

"When you're involved all the time you don't see the changes but the only gauge I have as a coach is my involvement with the Lions in 2009 (South Africa) and 2013 (Australia)," he said.

"South Africa is one of the most physical countries to go and play and then, from South Africa to Australia, the step-up in physicality and intensity increased massively."

England attack coach Mike Catt, who played in four World Cups, expressed similar sentiments, asserting that the game is certainly tougher now than when he played.

"It's hard to say that it's one particular thing. It's a tough sport," said Catt.

"It was a lot easier when I played with defences that weren't as organised, so there were holes everywhere.

"The tight five are so much more mobile (now). The back row are like your centres, so the game has definitely changed."